$150m of Bundaberg veg at risk from suspected virus
A SUSPECTED case of a vegetable disease which could threaten $150 million worth of Bundaberg produce is being investigated in a cucumber greenhouse in the region today.
Tomorrow farmers will attend a meeting with Biosecurity Queensland to discuss the results of testing for cucumber green mottle mosaic virus - and growers around the area are nervous.
The virus could be the biggest potential virus outbreak the region has had since cane smut, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers managing director Bree Grima said.
It has been detected before in several regions across Australia.
"It has been found in Carnarvon, the Northern Territory, and most recently in Charters Towers,” Mrs Grima said today.
"It's really only a matter of time before it gets here, but it can have devastating impacts on the region so we're keen to work with Biosecurity Queensland to ensure growers are up to date.
"At the moment they are testing the plants from the property and if it is positive, which I feel is very likely, the property will have to be quarantined.”
The impact could be "far reaching”, she said.
"Eradicating will be hard but the best case scenario is, it doesn't go further than the one property.”
The virus affects the cucurbit family: not only cucumbers but also zucchini, melons, pumpkin and squash.
It is not dangerous to humans but can kill production.
"If it gets into those we may see full crop losses,” Mrs Grima said.
"Cucurbits in the region represent a $150 million farm gate value.”
Coonarr cucumber grower Gianni Rosetto said the suspected case was not at his farm but he was worried about the consequences if the disease was confirmed in the region.
"The biggest worry, aside from having it affect your crop, is they found it in the Northern Territory on a couple of properties and, because they were trying to eradicate it completely, they stopped those farms producing for two years,” Mr Rosetto said.
"So they could shut you down.
"Anything that adds cost (such as quarantine and hygiene practices) is also a worry.”
Mrs Grima said BFVG would hold a meeting tomorrow for growers, attended by the Australian Melon Association and Biosecurity Queensland which will present its response on their test results.
"We'll be going over causes and symptoms,” she said.
"Growers will know if the farm is quarantined and how it will affect neighbours.”
The location of the affected property has not been disclosed while the tests continue.
Results are expected next week, a spokeswoman from the Department of Agriculture and Fishers said.
CGMMV is transmitted mechanically by wounds made with cutting tools, farming equipment, or chewing insects such as beetles. The virus can also be passed to other plants by root grafting or any handling of the crop. Sucking insects (e.g. aphids, mites, whiteflies) do not transmit the virus. Once the virus infects a plant, there is no known cure.
"The message we'll be spreading is be alert not alarmed, and stay informed,” Mrs Grima said.
"Biosecurity Queensland are very good at quarantining these properties, and just because they are quarantined doesn't mean they can't sell.
"The virus doesn't impact on human health.”
Growers are invited to attend tomorrow's meeting at the Burnett Club from 1-3pm to learn more about cucumber green mottle mosaic virus.
They are also urged to check their crops for the virus and contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 to report any suspected cases.
For more information on CGMMV, visit biosecurity.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.