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Action on Myrtle rust continues

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Actions to suppress Myrtle rust are continuing under an interim response plan agreed by governments, key national plant industries and Plant Health Australia.

Myrtle rust is a disease that affects the Myrtaceae family of plants (which includes many Australian native species).

Approximately 500 properties across NSW have been inspected for Myrtle rust since April 2010.

Subsequently, the disease has been confirmed on 44 sites in the Gosford/Wyong area and the Sydney basin. There are some trace forwards along the mid north coast and south to Nowra.

The disease has been found on twelve Myrtaceae species (including Willow Myrtle, Turpentine, Tea Tree, Lilly Pilly, Water Gum, Bottle Brush and Austromyrtus). Host testing has shown that other Myrtaceae species may be susceptible to Myrtle rust. However, this testing was conducted under controlled laboratory conditions and may not represent what would happen in the field.

The Myrtle rust National Management Group (NMG) agreed to an interim response plan for suppressing the disease on 2nd July 2010 and to further actions on 17th August 2010.

The Myrtle rust NMG includes representatives from government, peak industry bodies and Plant Health Australia. The group is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Conall O’Connell.

So far the responses have included:

  • Fungicide applications in and around infected properties
  • Movement restrictions of plant material out of the quarantine area
  • Removal and destruction of infected plants
  • Ongoing surveillance of the surrounding bushland
The Myrtle rust NMG is of the view that response actions should continue as the disease is largely contained within commercial properties and to date has not been found in any native forest or bush land.

They point out that warmer spring weather conditions and actively growing host plants are going to be key factors in determining whether the fungus is suppressed and if it can be effectively dealt with and eventually eradicated.

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