ON ALERT: 2PH Farms is warning of the severity of citrus canker after being affected in 2005.
ON ALERT: 2PH Farms is warning of the severity of citrus canker after being affected in 2005.

Keep out the canker

THE Central Highlands citrus industry was destroyed in 2005 and residents are being asked to remain vigilant to protect the industry this year.

Mayor Kerry Hayes said the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has issued a Movement Control Order notice for citrus canker and carriers after a recent canker detection was reported in the Northern Territory.

"What this means in simple terms is that right now we are asking members of the Central Highlands community not to bring any citrus (lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges etc) into the area that has originated from the Northern Territory,” Cr Hayes said.

"Citrus is a $40 million- plus industry for our region and employs hundreds of people locally.”

The MCO began on April 24 and will stay in effect for three months unless revoked earlier.

Emerald was at the centre of the outbreak of the exotic disease in 2005, which saw every commercial and ornamental citrus plant in the area destroyed to eradicate the disease.

Craig Pressler, of 2PH Farms, agreed the citrus canker outbreak in 2005 was devastating to growers and the whole community.

"Hundreds of jobs were lost and millions of dollars of wages which would have been spent in the community, with impacts felt widely across the whole region,” he said.

Citrus canker is a contagious bacterial disease that can affect all citrus plants.

The disease can be spread rapidly over short distances by wind-blown rain, weather events and human movement, particularly in tropical and subtropical climates.

Infected plants display lesions that form on leaves, fruits and stems, resulting in low plant vigour and a reduction in fruit quality and quantity.

Citrus canker can also be spread on planting media, machinery and equipment used in the production of crops in the citrus family.

"As a region that has been affected by this disease to such an extreme extent, it's important that all members of the community do what they can to ensure this terrible disease does not return,” Cr Hayes said.


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