Behind the Scenes

New case of Banana disease

Early stage of TR4 infection - entire leaf yellowing with leaf margins browning © Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

A suspected new case of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) has been detected on a Tully Valley banana farm.

PanamaTR4 is a soil-borne fungal disease that is present in Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program Leader Rhiannon Evans said “Our surveillance team identified banana plants displaying symptoms typical of Panama TR4 during a routine inspection of a property last month.

“We have a positive result from preliminary diagnostic testing for Panama TR4, however further testing is required this testing can take up to four weeks to complete,” she said.

“The grower was notified immediately and we are working with them to ensure strict on-farm biosecurity measures are maintained with a focus on preventing disease spread and minimising any production downtime.

“The property with the suspect detection is in close proximity to the three previously confirmed infested properties.”

To date, the Queensland Government has invested more than $42 million to manage the disease Far North Queensland. And the government claims that eradication of Panama TR4 is not feasible.

The first detected case of Panama TR4 in Queensland was on a banana farm in the Tully Valley in March 2015. The second case was on property in July 2017 and a third case in February 2018. All three properties are in close proximity to each other.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair Stephen Lowe said the industry knew the disease would eventually spread.

“This is definitely news that no-one in our industry wanted to hear. Biosecurity Queensland has a strong surveillance program in place and this has assisted with early detection of the disease in this instance.”

Early-stage of TR4 infection – yellowing leaf margins.
© Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Mr Lowe added that the new suspect detection was another reminder that Panama TR4 was here to stay.

“It is an incredible feat that the disease has been contained to such a small area so far. Indeed, this latest case is in close proximity to the other affected farms in Tully. However, there can be no doubt that it is spreading – and sadly it will continue to do so.”

Ms Evans said the Queensland Government would continue to stand with the banana industry to meet the challenges of Panama TR4.

“It is important for growers to report suspect looking plants as soon as possible.

“Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow disease spread and can extend the on-going viability of farms.

“This suspect detection reinforces the need for growers to implement and maintain robust on-farm biosecurity measures to protect their farms and the wider banana industry.”

Panama TR4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit.

If anyone suspects Panama TR4, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

For more information on Panama TR4 go to www.panamatr4ready.com.au





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