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A suspected new case of Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) has been detected on a banana farm in Far North Queensland, Australia.

Preliminary testing at the Tully Valley property has come back positive, but further tests will be needed for a conclusive result, which can take up to four weeks.

If confirmed, this will be the fifth infested commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley since the disease was first detected in Queensland in 2015.

Rhiannon Evans, leader of Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 programme, said a surveillance team spotted a banana plant showing symptoms typical of the disease during a routine inspection of the property.

“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,” Evans explained.

“Fortunately, the grower was prepared with on-farm biosecurity, making it easier to meet those requirements.”

Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC)chair Stephen Lowe said it’s news no one associated with the industry wanted to hear.

“Obviously our thoughts are very much with the grower affected,” Lowe explained. “This is and will be a very challenging time for them and their family as they await further test results.

“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 programme in place and this has assisted with early detection of the diseasein this instance.”

Lowe added that the new suspect detection was another reminder that TR4 was here to stay and encouraged all growers to maintain strong biosecurity practices.