Katherine has now joined the list of regions to host the contagious citrus canker, which was first detected in the Northern Territory in April.
The NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources today confirmed the disease had been detected on a Katherine property — the seventh property in the NT to test positive for the disease this year.
The infected lime tree, bought from a Katherine nursery in July last year, was first sourced from Darwin before being planted on a 15 acre property at Cossack, in the western part of Katherine.
“It’s not surprising that we’ve had this detection,” the department’s Chief Plant Health Officer Sarah Corcoran said.
Nearby residents will soon be visited for inspection by department staff and provided with further information.
New restrictions and controls will be announced shortly; no citrus plants will be able to be removed from the Katherine Local Government Area.
Restrictions also apply to the movement and propagation of a list of potential citrus canker host plants.
A ban on the movement of NT citrus interstate remains in place, but Ms Corcoran said the new detection had not derailed plans to reopen that trade shortly.
Katherine is also home to the NT’s largest citrus producer, which has found to be clear of citrus canker.
Despite the new movement restrictions, Ms Corcoran said it should be able to continue trading fruit — a low risk pathway for canker transfer — thanks to a new national protocol, which is “at the point of agreement”.
“[The protocol] will allow properties within a control area to trade fruit,” she said.
Katherine residents asked to report citrus purchases
Ms Corcoran said anyone who had bought a citrus plant in the last 12 months should report it.
“The infected plant was purchased from a Katherine nursery, which sourced their citrus plants from a supplier in Darwin,” she said.
“We were able to identify the location of the plant thanks to the assistance of the local nursery.
“This detection reinforces the value of the efforts being made in tracing host plants across the Northern Territory, and strengthens the belief the disease has not spread naturally.
A department spokesperson said since discovering citrus canker in a Darwin nursery earlier this year, the response team has been working tirelessly to trace host plants across the Northern Territory and the rest of Australia.
It was this tracing work that led the department to the Katherine property.
If you think you have a plant with citrus canker you can submit your photos and contact details via the online form or contact the citrus canker hotline on 1800 931 722.