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Horticulture

Backyard bananas need checking too

BACKYARD banana growers are reminded to watch out for and treat diseases on their plants before heavy rains from the wet season bring prime banana leaf disease conditions to north Queensland.

Mareeba based biosecurity officer Jodie Bocking said Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC) recently conducted visits to commercial banana farms and residences in the Tablelands district with mixed results.

"With the wet season having officially begun on November 1, we are in the highest risk season for banana diseases and we need to be on the look-out for any incursions of leaf speckle and yellow Sigatoka," Ms Bocking said.

"Both of these diseases, commonly referred to as 'leaf spot', are regulated leaf diseases that could have a serious effect on commercial banana production if they are not controlled.

"In the Northern Pest Quarantine Area, which stretches from Cairns to Mackay, the maximum allowed level of leaf disease on a banana plant is 5% of the total leaf area.

"The inspectors found no incidence of these diseases above regulated levels on commercial farms, however, we did find numerous residential plots with leaf speckle present above the allowed levels.

"Everyone in the community has a biosecurity responsibility and it is important for anyone growing bananas to follow good biosecurity practices and manage leaf spot to reduce spread and lessen the impact upon commercial production.

"Treating small infestations of leaf spot in residential plantations can be simply done by cutting off affected leaves and placing them face down on the ground underneath banana plants. This prevents the spores from becoming airborne and spreading.

Visit www.daff.qld.gov.au for more control methods. Anyone can report banana plants with disease levels above 5% on 13 25 23.

Topics:  bananas biosecurity