The WA Department of Agriculture and Food is working with industry on a management plan to combat tomato potato psyllid, following a national decision that it cannot be eradicated in Australia.
WA Department Biosecurity and Regulation Executive Director, Kevin Chennell said the damaging insect pest was detected in Western Australia for the first time in February 2017, prompting a national biosecurity response.
Tomato potato psyllid attacks a range of vegetable crops in the Solanaceae family including potato, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli, and tamarillo.
“Since February 2017, the WA Department of Agriculture and Food has carried out extensive trapping and surveillance throughout Perth and our horticulture production regions to check for the pest and take measures to stop it spreading,” Dr Chennell said.
“We have also collected thousands of plant samples and tested for the bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso) which is also a threat to our horticulture industries and can be carried by the psyllid.
“The psyllid has now been found on more than 70 properties across the metropolitan area and in some regional areas. However, there have been no detections of the bacteria.”
Dr Chennell said the National Management Group agreed that it was not technically feasible to eradicate tomato potato psyllid, and supported transitioning to a management program.
“The WA Department of Agriculture and Food is currently working with industry and national partners on the management plan, which is focused on control options on farms, supply chain management, and restoring access to interstate markets for affected produce,” he said.
“This work includes identifying key areas for further research to improve management outcomes and market access. Surveillance for CLso will also continue.”
Existing quarantine and movement controls in Western Australia will remain in place for now to minimise the risk of spreading the psyllid within the State, including treatment of commercial and non-commercial plants and produce prior to transport.
“Commercial and backyard growers are urged to continue to adhere to the movement controls, check their crops, and control the psyllid where it is found,” Dr Chennell said.
“Any new detections in regional areas should be reported to the WA Department of Agriculture and Food’s Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881.
“We commend industry and the community for their efforts in this response as we continue to examine the best way to manage this pest and support our growers into the future.”