Fruit fly were picked up along the Victoria-New South Wales border in Boundary Bend, near Robinvale, Wood Wood, north of Swan Hill, and Nichols Point, near Mildura, covering much of the stonefruit and table grape production in Victoria.
The humid, wet weather that has come side-by-side with the flooding that has hit Victoria over the past few weeks has provided ideal conditions for fruit fly, and the region is expected to see its most severe outbreak of the pest in 15 years, reported the ABC.
Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will established a 15km suspension zone around each of the detections.
The outbreak has upset the export status of the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area, a problem for the region’s grapes in particular, roughly half of which were bound for export.
For a number of markets, grapes from the suspension zones will not be given access without appropriate cold sterilisation. That won’t prove a problem for seafreighted consignments, but essentially rules out any chance of airfreight to those markets.
“We’re not going to lose all of that export market but we’re certainly going to lose some of it,” Australian Table Grape Association chairman Nick Muraca told the ABC.
Coming straight after the flooding, from the perspective of someone in the industry the outbreak was very difficult.
“You’re run down,” he said. “You’ve got enough on your plate with all the rain we’ve been having and the floods we’ve been having, especially in the Mildura area.”
“And now to have to go through all this, it’s just another nail in the coffin. And it’s extremely difficult and depressing.”
It is expected most of the previously export-bound grapes which will now lose access to certain countries will be sold on the Australian domestic market.