Leafhopper insects wreak havoc on Qld’s papaya orchards
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“We’ve found where we have done feeding studies they prefer to feed on something other than papaya, but when there’s nothing else around they’ll take the papaya.”
Mr Murday said his crops would have been infected last year during a dry spell.
“I must have chopped down 300-400 trees the other day,” he said, adding he’s still checking for more that are showing symptoms.
The disease cannot spread without the leafhoppers; papaya trees already infected cannot spread it to others nearby.
It’s currently not known where the insects are carrying the phytoplasmas from.
Farmers with papaya trees infected with yellow crinkle are forced to destroy them, denting profit margins.
For Mr Murday, whose papayas go to Western Sydney, the main impact is efficiency.
“Water use efficiency goes down, fertiliser efficiency goes down, because you’re fertilising and watering the whole area, but you’ve got 15 per cent less trees.”
Fifty to 60 farmers around North Queensland all the way down to Bundaberg have been affected by the disease, with some having to remove 80 per cent of their orchards, according to Mr Vawdrey.
“It has a negative impact on fruit quality. You wouldn’t want to market it.
“(It’s affecting) the entire industry as far as we’re concerned.
“There’s going to be a gap in production, no doubt about it.”