Growers in key Australian citrus-growing region the Riverland are facing the first fruit-fly outbreak in the region for over 20 years, reports the local press.
The outbreaks, declared this week in Loxton and Pyap after the discovery of 11 male Queensland fruit flies (Q-flies), could lose the state its fruit-fly-free status and cost its fruit sector millions.
A 1.5km quarantine zone and a 15km restricted area have been set up around both sites, limiting the movement of fruit in and out. An incident response team and extra staff have also been sent to the Riverland to help contain and eradicate the outbreaks.
Shadow Primary Industries Minister David Ridgway said the outbreaks are likely to cost A$4m because the Riverland is in the middle of the season for citrus, vegetables and nuts.
But Agriculture Minister Gail Gago said losses would be kept to a minimum because most citrus and stonefruit crops have already been harvested.
Gago added that inter-state eradication efforts have recently been abandoned, which has led to the Q-flies reaching SA.
Biosecurity SA executive director Will Zacharin said it was too early to say how many growers, or how much fruit, will be affected by the outbreak.
“The fruit can still move. It doesn’t have to be destroyed, but it has to undergo some cold treatment or fumigation or perhaps some other chemical treatment,” he said.
The eradication programme will continue for at least 12 weeks after the last Q-fly is found.
Fruit-fly-free status means the South Australia (SA) region can ship to key markets like Japan without having to cold-treat the fruit, saving money and fruit damage in-transit.