Australia Launches New Citrus Biosecurity Program

Ernie Neff Diseases, Pests


In recognition of biosecurity threats such as HLB, a new five-year biosecurity program, CitrusWatch, has been launched in Australia. This program is funded by Hort Innovation through the citrus R&D levy and by Plant Health Australia (PHA) using the citrus plant health levy.

The program is led by PHA, with Citrus Australia coordinating program activities. The Northern Territory Department of Industry Tourism and trade and research group Cesar Australia will provide surveillance, communication and research support.

CitrusWatch will be a collaborative, national program that will support an early detector network both within the industry and throughout the general public. It will link with biosecurity agencies, biosecurity programs in other industries, and research and Extension programs.

The program will aim to ensure that the Australian citrus industry is better equipped to minimize the entry and spread of high-priority pests, such as the HLB-spreading Asian citrus psyllid, African citrus psyllid and diseases such as HLB. The industry will retain access to key markets by collecting robust surveillance data and having surveillance mechanisms and expertise in place to quickly detect, identify and address incursions of high-priority pests.

In 2018-2021, an exotic pest sticky-trap network took shape that established the start of a network for early detection of some of the citrus industry’s high-priority pest threats. Through CitrusWatch, this early detector network will continue and expand. The program aims to deploy 1,000 sticky traps each year across urban residential areas and commercial citrus orchards to aid in early detection of Asian citrus psyllid, as well as other high-priority threats.

Once traps are collected from the field in spring and autumn, they are sent to diagnosticians for initial screening. Suspected exotics are sent to the relevant state biosecurity agency for further diagnostics.

During the program, sticky-trap surveillance in high-density urban areas, particularly those near major ports of entry, will be a focus.

The CitrusWatch program also has an industry training component. As the program progresses, information will be collected that will serve as a basis for developing training packages and resources specific to industry needs.

Resources include information materials designed to increase the level of familiarity with high-priority, high-impact exotic citrus pest species. Face-to-face workshops on pest surveillance and identification will also be organized, where domestic pest and disease experts will share their knowledge.

Learn more about CitrusWatch.

Source: Citrus Australia

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