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Myrtle rust fungus confirmed in Bay
Posted at 1:19pm Tuesday 13 Jun, 2017
UPDATED 2.19PM: Myrtle Rust doesn’t affect kiwifruit or avocado plants, says Rotorua MP Todd McClay.
Todd has been given assurances by the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy that MPI will do everything it can to manage the wind-borne fungus in the Bay of Plenty.
“It is business as usual for kiwifruit growers who have recovered so well from PSA, but I recognise there will be some uncertainty for others including the Manuka Honey sector," says Todd.
“It’s obviously very disappointing that this wind-borne fungus has spread to the Bay of Plenty, but MPI will do everything within their power to manage this infection."
The infection was identified in residential garden in Te Puke and Todd says the fast diagnosis by the property owner will help efforts to contain the infection.
“I want to recognise that the property owner has done the right thing in identifying Myrtle Rust and promptly reporting the infection to MPI.
“The faster MPI know about these infections the greater the chance it has of limiting its spread," says Todd.
“We saw during the PSA outbreak just how resilient our growers and communities can be. I would again urge local people to show the same vigilance with Myrtle Rust and report any concerns as quickly as possible to MPI’s Biosecurity hotline on 0800 80 99 66.”
Laboratory tests by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have confirmed that the plant fungus myrtle rust is present in Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty.
The infection has been found in a 25 year old ramarama plant in a private residential garden. It is the first find in a number of weeks outside of the key infection area in Taranaki.
Myrtle rust response Incident Controller David Yard says the new find is very disappointing.
“We had thought that the incursion could be contained to the small geographical area around Waitara. While it’s too early to say what the new detection will mean in terms of the ongoing operation, it’s certainly not good news in terms of its distribution in New Zealand.”
David says the property concerned has been placed under controls so that any movement of plant material or other risk goods from the property is stopped.
MPI has a team removing the affected plant, spraying the area with fungicide and doing a thorough check of the garden. The team will also begin a concentrated survey of vegetation surrounding the find.
“Our preliminary talks with the property owner have not found any obvious link with the situation in Taranaki or Northland, and there have been no recent nursery plant introductions to the garden. This lends weight to the possibility that this new location is a wind-borne infection.”
David says the Te Puke home owner is to be congratulated for being responsive and contacting MPI when she saw suspicious symptoms on her tree.
“The public response to myrtle rust has been huge and gratifying. So far we’ve had 822 calls reporting suspected myrtle rust. It’s vital information. Building our knowledge of this issue and the distribution of the disease will enable us to make the best possible decisions about managing this into the future.”
To date there are 46 known infected properties in New Zealand - four in Northland, two in Waikato, 39 in Taranaki and the one new find in Bay of Plenty.