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.