THE devastating plant disease banana freckle has been found again in the Northern Territory.
The Australian Banana Growers' Council has been notified by the NT government of a confirmed detection of banana freckle on a rural residential property.
Authorities are urgently checking out neighbouring properties at Batchelor to determine the extent of the problem.
Australia's banana industry is valued at $600 million.
The NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade has advised that a single sample has confirmed the detection via PCR sequence analysis.
"The ABGC would stress, that it is early days, and there is no suggestion at this stage of a wider outbreak, as experienced in the NT in 2013," the council said in a statement.
"We will continue to keep growers updated on any new developments as we remain in constant contact with the NT DPI."
The Territory had hoped it had seen the last of the disease after a long and costly fight saw it declared banana freckle free early in 2019.
In 2013, the banana industry was systematically wiped out around Darwin to stop the spread of the disease.
Queensland accounts for 94 per cent of Australia's banana production, with almost all of that in the north.
Australian growers sell about 400,000 tonnes of fresh bananas annually.
Banana freckle fungus cannot be eradicated by the use of chemicals, the banana plants have to be removed to get rid of the disease.
Banana plants around Darwin, Ramingining and the Tiwi Islands, were destroyed under the program, the largest plant pest eradication ever attempted in Australia.
Almost 500 properties were found to be infected with banana freckle during the last wave.
The eradication program cost an estimated $26 million.
Banana freckle makes leaves and fruit spotty and feel like sandpaper, which is caused by the fungal spore vessels sticking up through the surface of the leaf or skin.
There are three known types of banana freckle fungus, which can only be distinguished by genetic testing.
Only one type of banana freckle, phyllostica cavendishii, is known to infect the cavendish banana, as well as other varieties.
It reduces the yield and health of banana plants.
This species of banana freckle is listed under the Australian Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed to be targeted for eradication as it is a significant threat to commercial banana production across Australia.
The cavendish banana is the main variety grown by the Australian banana industry.
Banana freckle is known to occur in many parts of Asia including Malaysia and the Philippines.
There is a standing biosecurity alert issued in Queensland for growers to keep a lookout for banana freckle and report any signs to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
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