MPI have just announced the introduction of movement controls, which restrict the movement of myrtle species plant material out of the North Taranaki region.
The restrictions come into effect from 1pm today and apply to plants, trees, and ALL plant material (eg fruit, greenwaste and prunings) of the myrtle family.
The controlled area is 10km out from the known infected properties – see the map on the MPI website here: www.mpi.govt.nz/myrtlerust.
Myrtle plants can still be bought and planted within the restricted zone.
The restrictions have been put in place by MPI to help control any further spread of myrtle rust from the infected area around Waitara, especially during the current colder months when symptoms are suppressed and it’s difficult to get a good handle on the scale and breadth of infection.
MPI recognises we could be dealing with an extensive outbreak, but there remains some possibility we may only have a small level of infection that could ultimately be eradicated.
MPI has indicated that until the weather warms up and any infection present becomes much more visible, everything possible must be done to contain and destroy myrtle rust in the areas we know about.
The response will revisit the need for such restrictions as any significant new information comes to light, for example in spring - or earlier if surveillance provides additional detail.
NZPPI continue to be heavily involved in the response to myrtle rust and we support the approach that MPI has taken today.
The approach provides full access to compensation for any financial impact that plant producers and retailers within the zone may incur as a result of the restrictions eg, loss of myrtle species plant sales. While very challenging, that provides some security for those businesses at a time when commercial decisions may not work in their favour.
The movement controls apply to the Taranaki region only as myrtle rust finds in Northland and Te Kuiti have been managed appropriately with the current controls, while work is still underway to learn more about the situation in Te Puke.
NZPPI has gained agreement from MPI that messages around movement and planting of myrtle species will be fully aligned with the approach taken today. This means advice to the public and stakeholders is that there are no restrictions on movements or planting in other parts of New Zealand. Our key message is that it’s okay to move and plant myrtle species (and all other plants) throughout the rest of New Zealand, in accordance with the approved hygiene protocols that have been in place since this response was first initiated.
NZPPI has been meeting and supporting businesses throughout the affected regions and we’ll continue to work closely with those in Taranaki.
Do you have any questions or want to find out more about the implications of myrtle rust on your business? Please join us at the NZPPI conference next week. Myrtle rust will be a significant point of discussion and Geoff Gwyn, who leads the response, will be providing an update on myrtle rust and other biosecurity matters, along with Andrew Harrison and Malcolm Woolmore. This will be followed by a Q&A session.
All industry members are asked to remain vigilant, keep looking out for and reporting any possible signs of myrtle rust, and continue to apply NZPPI’s myrtle rust management protocols available on our website.
Identifying Myrtle Rust
Symptoms to look out for on Myrtaceae plants are:
- bright yellow powdery eruptions appearing on the underside of the leaf (young infection)
- bright yellow powdery eruptions on both sides of the leaf (mature infection)
- brown/grey rust pustules (older spores) on older lesions.
- some leaves may become buckled or twisted and die off.
If you suspect Myrtle Rust
Don’t touch it or try to collect samples as this may increase the spread of this disease. Myrtle rust is readily spread by wind and can be transported on clothing, vehicles and equipment.
- take photos e.g. of the whole plant, whole affected leaf and a close-up of the spores/affected area of the plant
- call MPI immediately (0800 80 99 66)
- don’t move any plants, produce or gardening equipment offsite until you hear back from MPI.