Members of the NSW Bunchy Top team, (L to r) Josh Chapman, Grant East, Project Leader David Peasley and Wayne Shoobridge, after a day's hard work destroying plants by injection. Photo: contributed
Members of the NSW Bunchy Top team, (L to r) Josh Chapman, Grant East, Project Leader David Peasley and Wayne Shoobridge, after a day's hard work destroying plants by injection. Photo: contributed Photo: contributed

Bunchy Top banana disease found at Doon Doon

THE BIGGEST infection of Banana Bunchy Top disease ever found by the National Bunchy Top Project has seen 7,500 banana plants destroyed at Doon Doon near Nimbin.

The plants were found on an old plantation in the Nightcap ranges and were largely covered or surrounded by weed and rainforest growth.

Banana Bunchy Top disease is the worst viral disease affecting bananas worldwide and in Australia is restricted to an area in northern NSW and South East Queensland.

Project Leader, David Peasley said the plants were in clumps scattered in very hilly terrain and the regrowth made them impossible to identify through aerial photography.

“The disease had spread right through the old plantation and I think it may have been there for 20 years. It was only discovered, as we were suspicious that infections in a commercial plantation must have been blowing in from nearby,” he said.

The disease can only be spread either by transplanting infected suckers or by infected aphids which are carried in the wind.

“Our suspicions were confirmed when the plants were found and only a high cliff had stopped any considerable spread of the disease,” Mr Peasley said.

“We have made excellent progress controlling Bunchy Top on commercial plantations in NSW and have had great support from the community in locating infected plants outside of plantations.

“This find highlights the need for vigilance across the region if we are to ever have the chance of eradicating the disease, particularly in NSW.

“We would ask property owners right through the Bunchy Top zone north of a line from Lismore to Ballina to keep their eyes open for possible infected plants on and around their properties.

“Anyone who thinks that their bananas are performing poorly can email us photos of the plants, and a close up of the underside of a leaf looking up into the sun so that we can assess them for you.”

People with concerns can email bunchytop@abgc.org.au or call 1800 368 371.



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