Leafhop­per in­sects wreak havoc on Qld’s pa­paya or­chards

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries will hold a grower in­for­ma­tion meet­ing at South John­stone Re­search Sta­tion in In­n­is­fail at 7.30pm on Wed­nes­day.

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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.”

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