Grower back from mo­saic virus brink

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

An­thony Ca­leo, 29, suf­fered hor­rific burns fol­low­ing an ex­plo­sion at the fam­ily farm at Sell­heim in Fe­bru­ary last year.

It was touch and go, but An­thony was back to see the first crop go out yesterday.

“I am not 100 per cent yet but I am get­ting there,” he said.

“It is good to be back on the farm. Ev­ery time I have to go back to Bris­bane ( for surgery) the doc­tors say I look good ... and I think be­ing back home is the rea­son for that.

“It has been a has­sle to get here but it is a good lift for us to be mak­ing some money again.”

The Ca­leo farm was quar­an­tined af­ter the cu­cum­ber green mot­tle mo­saic virus was de­tected on the prop­erty in April. The virus, an ex­otic dis­ease, was first de­tected in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory last year and af­fects cu­cur­bit species such as cu­cum­ber, mel­ons, wa­ter­melon, bit­ter- gourd, bot­tle gourd, zuc­chini, pump­kin and squash.

Mr Ca­leo’s wa­ter­melon crop tested pos­i­tive for the virus but his pump­kins have so far been clear of any dis­ease.

He said he had no idea when the quar­an­tine or­der would be lifted but he hoped to be plant­ing on un­af­fected land by Jan­uary.

“They ( biose­cu­rity ex­perts) haven’t worked out a way to test the dirt yet but farm­ers in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory have been al­lowed to farm in ar­eas with­out the virus so that’s what we are hop­ing to do,” he said.

“Af­ter all, we only had about 20ha of af­fected water­mel­ons on a 200ha farm.

“Iron­i­cally, if some­one else owned that 180ha ( of un­af­fected land) they could plant but

It is a good lift for us to be mak­ing some money again


be­cause I own farm, we can’t.”

Mr Ca­leo, who is on the board of the Aus­tralian Melon As­so­ci­a­tion, hopes to plant pineap­ples soon but es­ti­mates he has lost about $ 1 mil­lion as a re­sult of the out­break.

Biose­cu­rity Queens­land chief plant health man­ager Mike Ash­ton said the agency had con­ducted sur­veil­lance for the virus on a num­ber of com­mer­cial cu­cur­bit- grow­ing prop­er­ties in Queens­land.

He said there had been no other de­tec­tions so far.

“This pro­vides Biose­cu­rity Queens­land with in­creased con­fi­dence that it is deal­ing with an iso­lated case in Queens­land,” he said.

it, and

it’s one

PSY­CHO­LOG­I­CAL LIFT: Jon Ca­leo and ( inset) rot­ting mel­ons in­fected with mo­saic virus.

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