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Citrus canker in the Northern Territory



May 1, 2018

Citrus Canker. Image from Department of Primary Industry and Resources


Citrus canker in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources is responding to a suspected detection of citrus canker. It is understood that plants showing signs of infection were found on a variety of West Indian lime at retail outlets in both Darwin and Palmerston in early April.

The serious disease has not been detected in citrus growing areas or on commercial citrus varieties grown in orchards. Surveillance of citrus growing areas in the Northern Territory is ongoing.

Specialists at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute in NSW are undertaking secondary diagnostic testing of samples from grapefruit, Kaffir lime, West Indian lime and Tahitian lime. But because of the complexity of the testing, it could take weeks for results to be released.

In the Northern Territory, authorities are managing the potential risk of the disease spreading. Residents with citrus plants are being urged to check for signs of citrus canker. Find more information about the disease here http://www.outbreak.gov.au/

What is it
Citrus canker, a contagious disease caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas citri sub species citri, has been detected previously in Australia but has been successfully eradicated.

Native to South East Aisa, citrus canker can affect all citrus plants. There are also non-citrus hosts for the disease. It infects a plant through wounds and natural openings on leaves, stems, thorns and fruit. It presents as lesions or cankers at infection sites and impacts fruit quality and yield. However, citrus canker does not affect human health, animals or other plants and infected fruit is safe to eat.

Citrus canker symptoms on stem. Image from Department of Primary Industry and Resources

Update 2021

The Northern Territory (NT) has been declared free of citrus canker. You can now plant and move citrus plants in the NT.

From 12 April 2021, movement restrictions will no longer apply in Katherine and the greater Darwin areas.

Intrastate and interstate trade of citrus plants and plant material can resume to normal checks.

You should still check your plants and report any signs of the disease. For more information check this link

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