FREE OF DISEASE: North Burnett Murcott mandarins.
FREE OF DISEASE: North Burnett Murcott mandarins. Felicity Ripper

Sniffer dogs soon to be on the hunt for citrus canker

THE Federal Government has announced an Australian-first project aimed at combating the creep of citrus canker, a bacterial disease which causes fruit to fall prematurely, and can kill the tree.

Speaking in Mildura, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said she had approved the use of the Immediate Assistance Fund to develop scent lures for citrus canker, a first for Australian plant pathogens.

"By mid-2020 detector dogs will be trained with the scent lures and used to ensure we really do get rid of this disease in the north,” Ms McKenzie said.

Citrus canker was detected in the Northern Territory and Western Australia in 2018, although the outbreak is "on its way to being eradicated,” she said.

Outbreaks were previously detected in Queensland in 1984 and 2004.

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock welcomed the move.

"The dogs will provide assurance on top of ongoing work in (infected) regions, providing growers with confidence there won't be another incursion in the short term, and giving our trading partners confidence we remain on top of this incursion,” Mr Hancock said.


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