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Australia Declared Free of Citrus Canker

Ernie Neff Diseases, International

Citrus canker

On April 12, Australia was officially declared free from citrus canker after the remaining restricted areas in the Northern Territory (NT) were lifted. The disease was not detected in commercial orchards in Australia and was restricted to non-commercial residences in Western Australia (WA) and NT.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud acknowledged NT and WA for their efforts in leading the national response to citrus canker.

“Citrus canker is a serious bacterial disease of citrus which affects the leaves, twigs and fruit, causing leaves to drop and fruit to fall to the ground before it ripens,” Littleproud said. “Citrus canker was first detected affecting potted citrus plants in April 2018 in Darwin, NT, and May 2018 in Kununurra and Wyndham, WA, in a small number of properties with potted plants originating from the NT. If left untreated, it could have been detrimental to our $800 million citrus industry.” 

Littleproud said WA was declared free from citrus canker in November 2019 after eradication activities were completed in the Kununurra and Wyndham areas. “The nationally coordinated response to locate and remove all traces of citrus canker in the NT has been successful, and all eradication activities are now complete, thanks to the support of the NT community,” he added.

“This milestone is great news for the Darwin community and Australia more broadly as it allows residents and businesses in the former restricted areas to reintroduce, grow and cultivate citrus plants on their properties,” Littleproud said. “It also allows unrestricted domestic movement and trade of citrus fruit and leaves into and out of the former restricted areas.

“Our world-class biosecurity system continues to allow us to respond swiftly and effectively to potential biosecurity risks like this, to safeguard our vital agriculture industries and environment,” Littleproud added.

Citrus canker has been found in Australia previously, and successfully eradicated. The last outbreak occurred in Emerald, Queensland in 2004 and was declared eradicated in January 2009.

Source: Australian Government

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