A suspect new case of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) has been detected on a Tully Valley banana property in Far North Queensland.
If confirmed, it will be the fifth infested commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley since the disease was first detected in Queensland in 2015.
Biosecurity Queensland Panama TR4 program leader Rhiannon Evans said a surveillance team had spotted a banana plant showing symptoms typical of the disease during a routine property inspection.
"Preliminary testing has come back positive, but further tests are needed for a conclusive result and that can take up to four weeks," she said.
"We have advised the grower of the suspect detection and the need to meet strict biosecurity requirements to minimise the risk of any further disease spread.
"Fortunately, the grower was prepared with on-farm biosecurity, making it easier to meet those requirements.
"The biosecurity requirements are in place to protect the property and the industry from wider spread of this serious banana disease.
"Our dedicated team of biosecurity officers will work with the grower to provide practical support gained from working on the previous infested properties."
The property is close to the other four previously known to have the disease.
If it is a positive result, it will only be the fifth property confirmed to be infested with Panama TR4 in Far North Queensland since 2015, meaning the disease is spreading very gradually and is still contained within the Tully Valley.
Australian Banana Growers' Council chair Stephen Lowe said it was news no one associated with the industry wanted to hear.
"Obviously our thoughts are very much with the grower affected. This is and will be a very challenging time for them and their family as they await further test results," Mr Lowe said.
"ABGC is available to offer its full assistance where it can, for example with our templates and other requirements of the notice of a suspect property.
"Biosecurity Queensland has a strong surveillance program in place and this has assisted with early detection of the disease in this instance."
Mr Lowe added that the new suspect detection was another reminder that Panama TR4 was here to stay and he encouraged all growers to maintain strong biosecurity practices.
Ms Evans said this suspect plant was found by our surveillance team conducting regular sweeps of the area. This is the key to early detection.
"The joint industry-government Panama TR4 Program Management Board recently approved changes to expand the surveillance program.
"We'll be doing even more checks across Far North Queensland banana production areas, including increased surveillance in the Tully Valley.
"Early detection allows us to quickly destroy infected plants and minimise the build-up of fungal spores in soil."
Growers can protect their property at the farm gate, by restricting access, installing biosecurity signs, and having designated access points.
Strong on-farm biosecurity is the best line of defence for a banana property. It can help growers to resume trading earlier, providing they meet their biosecurity obligations and ensure no soil or plant material leaves the property.
If anyone suspects Panama TR4, they should report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.
Support is available from Agri-Science Queensland, the Australian Banana Growers' Council and the Panama TR4 Program. The program produces a Panama TR4 information kit for growers.