NZPPI’s Climate Model: The latest tool in the battle against myrtle rust

01 Mar 2022

NZPPI’s suite of tools and information to help producers manage myrtle rust outbreaks this summer is proving popular.

This suite includes a beta version of the Myrtle Rust Climate Model app to enable plant producers anticipate when myrtle rust is most likely to develop in their nurseries and so implement prevention practices.

It is currently being trialled by NZPPI members and non-members around the country.

HortPlus and Plant & Food Research developed the model, which sits under an overarching Plant Disease Management Platform on the NZPPI website. Based on weather station data, the platform provides forecasts, weather summaries, rainfall data, growing day data and winter chill calculations. The Myrtle Rust Climate Model uses this data to predict the timing and intensity of myrtle rust risk at any given time. Producers can then take non-chemical or chemical action to prevent or manage an outbreak.

NZPPI biosecurity and technical manager, Kathryn Hurr says plant producers now have a range of management options available to them to help deal with myrtle rust.

“The new climate model gives producers a valuable tool to get ahead of the disease and know when the best times are to spray, trim or remove Myrtaceae species in their nurseries and to monitor any susceptible plants in adjacent areas.

The Plant Disease Management Platform and Myrtle Rust Climate Model is free for NZPPI members and, thanks to Ministry for Primary Industries funding, is free for other users until December 2023. The myrtle rust tool will be refined as plant producers test it and provide feedback.

Accompanying the climate model on the NZPPI website is the updated Myrtle Rust Management Protocol. This protocol sets out the actual steps for plant producers to take to prevent and manage the rust, including advice on plant survey procedures and fungicide use. It also includes a FAQ for garden retailers and landscapers so they in turn can provide advice to the general public.

“This advice timely given Government has proposed a Myrtle Rust Long Term Management Plan, which will mandate good practice biosecurity for those plant producers selling Myrtaceae species,” says Kathryn.

The myrtle rust tool and protocols support the Myrtle Rust Module in the Plant Pass biosecurity scheme.

In conjunction to sector protocols, Biosecurity NZ has recently launched an updated public awareness campaign on Myrtle Rust. The campaign simplifies the messaging around how to treat and remove infected plants.



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