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North Queensland banana fungus checks continue

Staff writer |
Biosecurity Queensland surveillance officers will be visiting banana properties in the Lakeland area in early February.

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They will check plants for signs of Panama disease tropical race 4.

Panama disease tropical race 4 program leader, Rebecca Sapuppo said that extensive surveillance had been conducted on farms in the Tully, Innisfail and Atherton Tableland regions following the detection of the disease in Tully in March last year.

"We are now moving our surveillance teams to banana farms located in the Lakeland area. Several properties in the area have been prioritised for surveillance under the Panama disease tropical race 4 surveillance strategy," she said.

"Surveillance officers walk every fourth row on banana farms looking for plants with symptoms consistent with the disease. Any suspect plants are flagged and samples are taken and sent to our laboratory in Brisbane for diagnostic testing," Ms Sapuppo said.

Panama disease tropical race 4 is a soil-borne fungus that affects Lady Finger, Ducasse and Cavendish banana plant varieties, amongst others. The fungus blocks the vascular system, cutting off the supply of water and nutrients. This causes the plant to wilt and die.

The disease is not eradicable and fungal spores are spread through soil, water and infected plant material. Spores can lie dormant in soil for over 30 years.

Ms Sapuppo said early detection and preventing the spread of the disease is one of the main objectives of the Biosecurity Queensland Panama Program.

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