A grower’s approach to biosecurity in face of citrus canker
15 March 2019
When citrus canker was detected in the Northern Territory last year, Nutrano Produce Group made immediate changes to protect its Katherine farm against potential incursion.
General Manager of its Katherine farm, Joshua Clementson, told the Citrus Technical Forum that first and foremost, it tightened all biosecurity measures.
Joshua said these measures could be applied on all farms:
- Ensure production material is purchased from accredited suppliers with appropriate plant health certificates.
- Monitor orchard frequently for presence of new pests and investigate sick plants for unusual symptoms.
- Ensure staff and visitors adhere to orchard biosecurity and hygiene practices.
Nutrano also trained all relevant staff to be able to identify symptoms in both packing shed and farm. Joshua said that citrus canker can easily be confused with other citrus diseases, citrus scab and alternaria.
Following the detection of citrus canker in the NT (it has been found predominantly in suburbs of Darwin), Nutrano obtained citrus canker property freedom accreditation so it could return to trading of citrus.
This involved two surveys of the orchard by the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, NT, one at petal fall and the second prior to harvest.
Each survey accreditation involved inspecting 600 trees throughout the orchard.
There have been four surveys completed, three in 2018 and one in 2019 to achieve property freedom accreditation.
It then created a comprehensive biosecurity manual for the Katherine farm, with the assistance of DIPR the Department of Primary Industries and Resources, NT.
New measures include:
- All employees park at office car park with no external vehicles entering the orchard
- Visitors dip boots to avoid potential bacteria contamination
- All workers and visitors are transferred to the orchard on farm buses
- In-house trucks used to transport fruit to packing shed
Changes have also been made to the packing shed since the citrus canker outbreak, including:
- Installation of chlorine dip to completely wet fruit in accordance with APVMA permit with 200ppm of available chlorine
- Fruit must remain completely wet with solution of chlorine for 2minutes
- All fruit graders have been trained to detect for citrus canker
The pack house has been audited by the DPIR for Nutrano to gain pack house registration and the company now keeps treatment records for a minimum of 24 months.
A further three audits have occurred since registration.
Now, 2% of all consignments leaving the packing shed are inspected for citrus canker.
They also identify and document the risks along with the measures taken to mitigate these.
“Ensure your records are always up to date and you document everything required,” Joshua said.
He advised businesses wanting to create a biosecurity plan to use as many practical measures as possible to overcome these risks without creating huge capital expense, and to work in conjunction with local government authorities to comply with all operational procedures.
“They are there to help,” he said.