Growers say bye to chestnut blight
CHESTNUTS Australia president Brian Casey is confident no new cases of chestnut blight will be found in the Ovens Valley when trees are checked in the coming months.
Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity will begin the next round of chestnut blight surveillance in early September and plans to be completed by mid-October.
Checks in autumn found no new infections and Mr Casey said if any new cases arise they will most likely be during the next surveillance period.
“The disease sits dormant in winter and then becomes more active in spring,” he said.
“We were pretty disappointed by the single detection last July but we think it’s highly unlikely to happen again.
“After last year, surveillance officers decided they needed to be more thorough and they certainly have been, so we’ll be very surprised if another infection pops up.”
The single diseased chestnut tree found in July 2016 came as the region was about to be given the all clear from the foreign infection that threatened to destroy the $10 million industry six years earlier.
Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity officers found now new infections when they undertook autumn chestnut blight surveillance on 8188 chestnut trees across the Ovens Valley Restricted Area.
Autumn surveys focused on previously infected properties to check for any remaining contamination.
Agriculture Victoria chestnut blight response manager Stu Roberton said officers will assess more than 16,000 chestnut trees and other host trees including oaks, during September and October.
“The spring survey will be undertaken in targeted 1km zones around previous infected properties in Wandiligong, Smoko and Bright and in a 5km zone around the previously infected properties in Eurobin.”
“Early detection is vital for eradication prospects and is a pivotal part of protecting Australia’s valuable chestnut industry.”
Recently the National Management Group, that governs the status and associated actions on Australia’s exotic pest eradication programs, approved the new Chestnut Blight Response Plan.
The plan permits the extension of the eradication program to August 2018.
“The plan was updated to reflect changes required to the eradication program after the July 2016 detection in Eurobin, Victoria,” Mr Robertson said.
“The plan outlines the final stages of surveillance and associated activities required to provide confidence the disease has been successfully eradicated from Australia.”
Victoria can apply for area freedom if no further detections are found by the end of the eradication period.
Mr Casey said area freedom will lift restrictions currently limiting host material and equipment movements in the Ovens Valley restricted area.
“Growers have for a long time carried out responsible biosecurity measures like washing down machinery if their moving it out of a restricted zone,” he said.
“We’ve got a field day in Stanley coming up and while chestnut blight isn’t the main topic it’s an opportunity to reinforce biosecurity procedures and encouraging farmers to have plans in place.
“Hopefully this time next year we will be celebrating the region being disease free.”
HEALTHY: Chestnut trees in the Oven’s Valley will be checked for Blight in the coming months after a case was found last season.