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Suspected fire blight outbreak in Victoria



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Joint Statement

SENATOR PETER COOK, COMMONWEALTH MINISTER FOR RESOURCES MR BARRY ROWE, VICTORIAN MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS

PIE89/.. . 9 November 1989

SUSPECTED FIRE BLIGHT OUTBREAK IN VICTORIA

A property near Wangaratta, in Victoria, has been placed in quarantine following a suspected outbreak of the exotic plant disease fire blight (Erwinia amvlovora).

This was announced jointly today by the Minister for Resources, Senator Peter Cook, and the Victorian Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Mr Barry Rowe.

Fire blight is a serious bacterial disease which affects pome fruit such as pears, nashis and apples. The symptoms include the apparent scorching of new leaves and die back of tip growth.

The Ministers said a final diagnosis of the suspect disease will probably not be available for a week, but in the meantime action is being taken to prevent any possible spread of the suspect disease.

They said the suspect infection was found during investigations by quarantine officers into allegations of illegal importation of nashi budwood.

The quarantined property is at Moyhu, 25 kilometres south of Wangaratta.

The symptoms were found on nashi trees growing in an orchard comprising 43 acres of mixed pome fruits. About 5,000 trees, each about four years old are growing in the orchard, but only a small number of nashi trees are showing the suspected fire

blight symptoms.

The Ministers said that following the discovery of the symptoms a plant pathologist with experience in diagnosing fire blight disease was sent from Melbourne yesterday for further investigations. After an examination of the trees this morning

it was decided that all trees on the property should be sprayed with a copper-based spray. As well, trees showing symptoms will be heavily pruned, and the prunings burnt on the property

The Ministers said a final diagnosis will be dependent on isolating the causative organism from the affected trees and testing it against specific anti-serum or comp1ementary-DNA probes.

They said the suspected outbreak should not cause alarm in the fruit growing industry, as it was possible the symptoms were caused by another bacterium, Pseudomonas svrinaae. which is common in Australia.

This bacterium was responsible for a false fire blight alert near Shepparton, in Victoria, three years ago.

Enquiries: Don Gumming (062) 725500 or Robin Taylor (03) 6517833

COMMONWEALTH