A SUSPECTED case of Panama disease has been identified on a commercial banana farm in Far North Queensland.
Initial testing of a sample taken from a banana plant on a property in the Tully Valley that displayed symptoms of the disease last week returned a positive result.
It is the third farm in the area that has been impacted by panama race four, after it was first detected in Queensland on Cavendish banana plants on a farm in the Tully Valley, in March 2015. The disease was detected on a second property in the Tully Valley in July 2017.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries general manager and chief plant protection officer, Mike Ashton said further testing was required before a final conclusive positive result could be determined.
“The sample now needs to undergo further diagnostic testing for a final and conclusive result which can take up to six weeks to complete,” Mr Ashton said.
“If the diagnostic tests return a positive result, this will be the third banana farm in the Tully Valley to be infested with the disease.”
Mr Ashton said the property with the suspect detection was close to the two confirmed infested properties.
“Biosecurity Queensland is will commence high intensity surveillance on the suspect property to determine the possible extent of the disease, and conducting tracing and on-farm investigations to determine potential risk pathways,” he said.
“We are in contact with the business owner and our main focus is to minimise any production downtime for their property while working with the Australian Banana Growers’ Council to mitigate the risk to the rest of the industry.
“We are urging growers to continue to implement on-farm biosecurity strategies that not only protect their farm at the boundary, but strategies that will minimise farm downtime if the disease is detected on their property.”
Mr Ashton said the latest suspect detection emphasised the challenge of managing and containing the disease.
“Panama disease can survive in the soil for decades without banana plants and is easily transported in contaminated soil, water and on tools, farming machinery and vehicles,” he said.
“Plants may not show symptoms from several weeks to several months, so the disease may be spread to other areas of the farm before it is eventually detected.
“Report suspect looking plants as soon as possible. Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow disease spread and may extend the viability of your farm.”
If you suspect Panama disease in your plants, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.