A TEAM of inspectors is in the Bundaberg region checking banana plantations for signs of the disease bunchy top.
National Bunchy Top Project manager David Peasley said the disease was a virus that only affected banana plants.
The virus was spread by a banana aphid.
Mr Peasley said bunchy top was the most serious virus disease of bananas.
"It stunts the plant, and it can destroy a crop," he said. "If it gets into a plantation it can destroy it very quickly."
Mr Peasley said it was believed the virus was confined to northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland up to Cooroy, but the industry was keen to confirm that it had not spread further north.
"We believe we've got it contained, but we're very keen to keep it out of the prime growing area of northern Queensland," he said.
Mr Peasley said they had not found any evidence of the virus so far and did not expect to find any, but it was vital to check.
"Bundaberg is quite a significant growing area now," he said.
The team would check plantations and any backyard plantings in the Bundaberg region where residents thought plants were not performing.
"Our primary role is to keep bunchy top out of commercial plantations and there are at least eight growers in and around Bundaberg with plantations supplying bananas for local, Sunshine Coast and the Brisbane markets," Mr Peasley said.
"One of the symptoms is the shortening and narrowing of the newest leaves, but bunchy top is hard to detect so the best action is to get in the experts who will quickly examine the plants and recommend what to do next."
Mr Peasley said the disease could be spread by the movement of infected banana suckers so controlling it was the main reason why permits were needed for planting bananas and why they were only available from approved suppliers.
"The banana industry could be destroyed in Australia if bunchy top were to spread further north and reach the main growing regions of far north Queensland," Mr Peasley said.
"One of our inspectors will be happy to come and inspect bananas in hobby farms or backyards if people suspect their plants are infected.
"They can contact us by telephoning the bunchy top hotline on 1800 068 371."