berry blues

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - ROGER HAN­SON

BERRY grow­ers are re­new­ing calls for a blue­berry rust erad­i­ca­tion pro­gram af­ter the dis­cov­ery of the pest on a prop­erty near Sh­effield on the North West Coast.

The Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries, Parks, Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­ment says sam­ples were col­lected at a prop­erty in the Ken­tish Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and plant pathol­ogy ex­am­i­na­tions con­firmed blue­berry rust — the fourth site in Tas­ma­nia with the fun­gal dis­ease.

Tas­ma­nian blue­berry grower and for­mer Aus­tralian Blue­berry Grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Greg McCul­loch said grow­ers were not happy.

Tas­ma­nia has 80 reg­is­tered blue­berry grow­ers and an in- dus­try worth about $30 mil­lion.

“This lat­est out­break does not bode well for the Tas­ma­nian in­dus­try,” Mr McCul­loch said.

“The Govern­ment or depart­ment most likely will con­tinue their pro­gram of con­tain­ment, but I be­lieve a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach to erad­i­ca­tion should have hap­pened last year.”

The call for erad­i­ca­tion grew louder af­ter the state’s strat­egy changed from the ini­tial pol­icy of erad­i­ca­tion to one of con­tain­ment af­ter the dis­ease hit a ma­jor pro­ducer last year.

The han­dling of the dis­ease in out­breaks since 2014 is be­ing looked at in an Up­per House in­quiry.

Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia staff are un­der­tak­ing trace-back and other in­ves­ti­ga­tions to at­tempt to iden­tify the source of the in­fec­tion.

Grower Tony O’Con­nell, from Grove, said it high­lights the need to be more vig­i­lant with plant ma­te­rial com­ing into the state.

“This lat­est out­break puts a dif­fer­ent as­pect on the whole is­sue,” Mr O’Con­nell said.

The Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion, which joined the Pri­mary In­dus­try Biose­cu­rity Ac­tion Al­liance and ABGA in call­ing for Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia to start erad­i­cat­ing the dis­ease is dis- ap­pointed the in­cur­sion has hap­pened.

“It’s not sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing erad­i­ca­tion was not done,” TFGA pres­i­dent Wayne John­ston said.

Biose­cu­rity Tas­ma­nia gen­eral man­ager Lloyd Klumpp said strict biose­cu­rity mea­sures had been put in place .

“This in­cludes re­stric­tions for the move­ment of plant ma­te­rial on and off the prop­erty and biose­cu­rity mea­sures will be in place.

Dr Klumpp said grow­ers and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions would be kept in­formed of all rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion.

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