Grow­ers say bye to ch­est­nut blight

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - NEWS -

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.

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