A picture of a branch affected by the disease myrtle rust

Whats the Fuss About Myrtle Rust?

The latest plant biosecurity news is summarised in the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre’s (PBCRC)  The Leaflet. The latest edition was packed full of information on the disease called myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii). Read on to find out what really is the fuss behind myrtle rust.

A picture of a branch affected by the disease myrtle rust

Suspect myrtle rust symptoms should be reported to the Pest and Disease Information Service (Emergency Plant Pest Hotline) on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

The Australian Myrtaceae family of plants, including eucalypts, tea tree and paperbark, and associated plant industries are under threat from a devastating disease called myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii). Myrtle rust was introduced in 2010 and was detected for the first time in Australia on the central coast of New South Wales. With the wind-borne nature of the disease and the abundance of suitable plant hosts in the Australian environment, the disease spread rapidly and is now considered established and widespread along the entire east coast of Australia. The disease is very effective at spreading  making it a threat to the health of Western Australian native species.

What is Myrtle rust?

Dr Geoff Pegg from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is the PBCRC myrtle rust expert,  in the following video he provides some interesting insights into this devastating disease and the research that is building knowledge to help affected industries.

Myrtle rust threatens Australian Industry-

The latest edition of The Leaflet outlined three main industries effected by Myrtle rust.

  1. The $800 million production nursery industry is an important part of the Australian economy and is vital for supporting a range of other industries such as fruit and vegetables. Myrtle rust has already damaged the nursery and garden industry significantly, with immediate restrictions on interstate trade following detection and the removal of popular commercial varieties of plants that are highly susceptible to the disease. Some states still maintain trade restrictions from areas where the disease is present.
  2. The forest industry contributes over $20 billion of economic turnover each year and employs over 70,000 people (ABARES, 2014). While initially considered a significant risk to the forestry industry, impacts to date have fortunately been minimal with reports of the disease restricted to minor damage in young eucalypt plantations in New South Wales (Carnegie, 2015) and Queensland (Pegg, unpublished).
  3. The developing lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) industry has been one of the hardest hit by the disease. Lemon myrtle leaves contain oil with the highest citral content of any known plant in the world – citral is the lemony aroma compound used for its citrus effect. The leaves are dried and milled for use in teas or as a spice and steam distillation is used to extract the essential oil from the leaf material, which can then be used as food flavouring, in aromatherapy products, cosmetics and toiletries. In 2012, production of lemon myrtle was estimated to be between 575 and 1,100 tonnes of leaf and 3 to 8 tonnes of oil, with a farm gate value of between $7 and $23 million.

Overview of the lemon myrtle industry

Lemon myrtle leaves contain the highest amount of citral, more than 90 per cent, of any plant in the world- it has been described as ‘lemonier than lemon’!

The leaves are dried and milled for use in teas or as a spice. Steam distillation is used to extract the essential oil from the leaf material which can then be used as food flavouring, in aromatherapy products, cosmetics and toiletries.

In 2012, production of lemon myrtle was estimated to be between 575 and 1,100 tonnes of leaf, and three to eight tonnes of oil, with a farm gate value of between $7 and $23 million.

So how do we manage it?

The Australian lemon myrtle industry have been loosing out since the introduction of the disease in 2010. The Plant Biosecurity CRC are conducting research to help develop management strategies to reduce production losses from affected plants. Myrtle rust leads to to branch defoliation, dieback and stunted growth – yield losses can be to be up to 70 per cent. Production losses can be severe if the disease is left untreated.

Through a PBCRC research project with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), scientists are investigating how to manage the impact of myrtle rust – a disease that has the potential to cause widespread change in native plant species and impacts on the ecological communities they support. This research is being led by Dr Suzy Perry and Dr Geoff Pegg from QDAF, with significant support from Dr Angus Carnegie (NSW DPI). The research project Managing myrtle rust and its impact in Australia is investigating myrtle rust management options for industry and the impact on native ecosystems. This research hopes to finalise a nationally standardised myrtle rust rating system for a range of myrtaceous species growing under different environmental conditions which will enable affected stakeholders to better manage myrtle rust and its consequences in Australia.

For further information on the project take a look at – Managing myrtle rust and its impact in Australia, Further information: Dr Geoff Pegg, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Participants: NSW Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

A poster warning New Zealand residents to keep a look out for myrtle rust

Even New Zealand residents are asked to keep a look out for the disease.

Keeping myrtle rust out of Western Australia-

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) gives these tips for managing the biosecurity risk of myrtle rust-

Bush walkers and home gardeners are likely to be the first people to find myrtle rust if it enters WA. Naturalists are invaluable as “eyes on the ground” but are also those most likely to inadvertently bring this disease into WA.

Wind disperses myrtle rust spores but wind alone is unlikely to carry them across the desert which separates WA from the eastern states. However, the tiny spores are highly transportable and can stick to clothing, hats, footwear, vehicles and equipment. Consequently anyone who visits NSW, Victoria or Queensland and then returns to WA should take the following precautions:

  • If travelling by road, shake out floor mats, wash down tyres and check that the vehicle, caravan, trailer and any gardening equipment contain no plant material. Do this before leaving NSW, Victoria or Queensland and do it again before crossing the border back into Western Australia. The reason for performing the first clean-up is that if any spores are accidentally transported even a short distance into other states they could allow myrtle rust to become established further westward and, consequently, begin the spread of the disease towards WA.
  • If possible, change into fresh clothing and footwear before re-entering WA and pack away the attire that was worn in NSW and Queensland. Once home, wash everything that was used on the trip.
  • Rail and domestic airline passengers are reminded that any plant material or items contaminated by soil are prohibited entry into WA. If friends or relatives from eastern Australia are planning to visit WA please pass on this advice.

More information on the DPIRD website about myrtle rust can be found here.

Anyone who finds what they suspect is myrtle rust should ring the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) on Freecall: 1800 084 881 to report the location. If possible take a photograph and email it to info@agric.wa.gov.au.

Symptoms can also be reported through the MyPestGuide reporter app or by making an online report.

Do not take a sample to post to the Pest and Disease Information Service, because snipping off a piece of diseased plant could dislodge the spores and accelerate the local spread of myrtle rust.

MEDIA RELEASE- Fox control workshop in Harvey

MEDIA RELEASE

Fox control workshop in Harvey

Members of the public wanting to know more about the latest approaches to controlling foxes on their property are encouraged to attend a free event at the Harvey RSL Hall on July 13, at 2 pm.

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is putting on a workshop which promises information on new technologies and hands-on demonstrations.

The control of foxes comes at a critical time for two main reasons.

First, the calicivirus has knocked down rabbit numbers, and foxes will seek alternative food sources which may include poultry, young lambs, as well as native wildlife.

Second, the most effective fox control is achieved during late winter and spring: at this time foxes are less mobile as they are rearing young and food demands are high.

Participants are asked to register for the event so that organisers can accommodate all participants in the hands-on demonstrations.

Demonstrations will include the operation of the candid pest ejector, which is a new way of deploying 1080 to foxes.

There will also be information on permit requirements for 1080.

Vaughn Byrd, chairperson of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, is keen for local landholders to attend. “The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is committed to bringing the latest information on best-practice pest control to the local community,” he said.

“We have taken the opportunity to host a number of experts who are travelling through the South West in the hope that the community comes together to learn new skills and think about ways of taking a regional approach to fox management,” he said.

Please email your RSVP to info@peelharveybiosecurity.info

A light afternoon tea will be provided so please indicate whether you have specific dietary requirements.

Children can attend the event with an enclosed outdoor play area available to keep them amused.

ENDS….

Media Contact-

Jonelle Cleland

Executive Officer

Email: exec.officer.phbg@gmail.com

MEDIA RELEASE- Look twice for cotton bush signs

MEDIA RELEASE

Look twice for cotton bush signs

 Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group hopes their thought provoking signs placed in cottonbush infested areas will raise awareness about the weed and promote its control.

Cotton bush competes with pasture and native bushland, is toxic to humans and livestock and is spread easily on the wind.

If cotton bush is harvested along with hay it can potentially poison any livestock that consume it.

Fire affected areas are also vulnerable to weeds through large cleared areas and no competition from other vegetation.

Young seedlings can be controlled manually by pulling them up or by chemical control.

It is important to remove the weed before it has time to grow seed pods and release new seeds into the soil.

New signs reminding people to control their cotton bush will be placed in different areas in the Peel-Harvey region to remind community members that pest control has to be a group effort.

All property owners are responsible for controlling declared pests on their land.

 Executive Office Jonelle Cleland says  “Contact the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group for information on how you can control cotton bush on your property, or go online at peelharveybiosecurity.info for information.” 

Peel Harvey Cotton Bush Sign put on the side of the Highway in Harvey

The Peel Harvey Cotton Bush Groups banner in Harvey.

 

ENDS….

Media Contact-

Teele Hooper-Worrell

Communications Officer

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group

comms.phbg@gmail.com

Free offer … traps to identify what insects lurk in your pantry

 

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) are calling for citizen scientists to register for Western Australia’s second Pantry Blitz.

The Pantry Blitz is a biosecurity initiative designed to uncover what type of exotic pests might be hiding in people’s kitchens.

 

Tribolium castaneum

Tribolium castaneum collected in a grain storage lab

Volunteers who register their interest will be mailed free insect traps to place in their pantries. Once a week, between the 12 August and the 9 September, each participant will photograph any insects that appear in their traps and report findings using the MyPestGuide Reporter app. Entomologists at DPIRD will identify the insects from photographs and report back to volunteers about their findings.

Registrations for Pantry Blitz are currently open. Packages, containing traps and instructions, will be mailed to registered participants. People are encouraged to sign up online via the Pantry Blitz webpage.

Sitophilus-oryzae-adults.

adult Sitophilus oryzae

Pantry Blitz is a key activity of the department’s Boosting Biosecurity Defences project and is supported by National Science Week and Royalties for Regions.

Key URLS and resources:

  1. Pantry Blitz 2017 page – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/biosecurity/pantry-blitz-2017
  1. Sign up to participate – https://confirmsubscription.com/h/j/6B163C3AB6347789
  1. Social media handles – Twitter: DAF_WA and Facebook: @DepartmentofAgricultureandFoodWA
  1. Social media hashtag: #PantryBlitz17

MyPestGuide Links

MyPestGuide website – https://mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au/

MyPestGuide Reporter – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/apps/mypestguide-reporter

MyPestGuide family of apps – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/biosecurity/mypestguide-suite

Mobile app centre – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/appcentre

Boosting biosecurity defences project – https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/invasive-species/e-surveillance-pests-and-diseases-wa-grains-industry

MyPestGuide Reporter Download Links

Apple App Store –

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/mypestguide-reporter/id1032560930?mt=8

Android Google Play Store -https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.agric.mpg.reporter&hl=en

National Science Week – 12-20 August

NSW logos https://www.scienceweek.net.au/get-involved/graphics-logos/

NSW front page https://www.scienceweek.net.au

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

July edition of Backyard Buddies released

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development release a monthly guide to animal and plant pests, diseases and weeds. The July edition of Backyard Buddies focuses on preventing weeds by using mulch in your garden.

The header promting the Backyard Buddies Newsletter

Winter rains are building up moisture levels within the soil; aiding absorption of the nutrients and minerals needed to ensure a healthy plant. Weed seeds are also benefiting from this rain as it helps to provide the optimal conditions for weed germination.

The secret to successful and cost-effective weed control is to strike early, and nothing is earlier than prevention. So it’s important to implement weed management practices in your garden and understand the importance of using clean mulch from a reputable source.

Mulch is commonly used as a protective layer to maintain soil moisture by minimising evaporation. Mulch also prevents weeds by limiting the light required for weed establishment. However, contaminated mulch and the incorrect use of mulch can introduce new weeds into your garden or encourage existing weeds to germinate.

Ask questions of mulch suppliers or retailers to help avoid purchasing mulch contaminated with weed seeds.  Mulch that has not reached the optimal temperature required to kill most weed seeds, is not frequently turned or is left uncovered, poses a risk of weed contamination.

Composted mulch or mulch containing large quantities of plant debris and soil are not effective at weed suppression.  These act more like a soil they can compact and retain water; providing the perfect conditions for weeds to germinate and prosper.

If looking to suppress weeds, choose coarser mulch.  This is commonly made from chunks of wood or bark, and applied up to 4 inches deep.

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

You can also help protect your garden and our State by reporting suspicious or unusual weeds that pop up after fertilising or applying mulch to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional

Development (Previously the Department of Agriculture and Food WA) using our free mobile app MyWeedWatcher, or report via the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service by calling 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

A picture of a hand holding a phone showing the MyWeedWatcher App

Pests and rides feature at Harvey Show

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group attended the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show. Our enthusiastic committee members, made up of local property owners and representatives from the Shire of Murray and Harvey, tended the stall .

 

Three members of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group at the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show.

Members from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (from left) Marion Lofthouse, Colleen Archibald and Tom Lerner attend the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show.

 

Committee member Marion Lofthouse reported that the day was very successful with new cotton bush infestations reported, “we were able to hand out lots of bumper stickers to interested community members as well as hand out control notes on cotton bush and other weeds”. Marion was also surprised to discover that although many community members were aware of the group through the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group banners, strategically placed around the Peel-Harvey region, community members were still unaware of what cotton bush actually looked like. Marion says ” when they came to the stall to ask us what cotton bush actually looked like I could show them some cuttings and our potted samples to show them”.

 

Cotton bush

Narrow leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus) is a declared pest in Western Australia (WA).

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is looking forward to attending other community shows in 2017 and the events the group are attending can be found in the events section of our website. If you would like more information on the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group explore the website or visit the Facebook page.

Declared weed infestations can be reported by contacting your local biosecurity group or via the MyWeedWatcher App.

 

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Global invader controlled by kero concoction

Robinia pseudoacacia L. (black locust) is recognized as a global invader due to its ability to colonise areas quickly, produce lots of seeds, and produce suckers when disturbed. It’s ability to fix nitrogen in the soil allows Robinia to spread into low quality soils, once used to reclaim disturbed sites, the plant is now recognized as a weed on most continents. Many gardeners plant Robinia species because of their golden appearance and large colourful flowers, however these species are grafted onto black locust root stock which produce thorny suckers when the roots are disturbed. These suckers can even pop up into neighboring yards 15m away causing disputes, some of which has led to civil action.

A picture of a robinia tree with white flowers

 

Don Burke, of Burke’s Backyard, lists the global invader Robinia as one of the trees gardeners will regret they planted!

Control Options-

Robinia suckers can pop up vigorously after soil disturbance with sharp thorns that can make removal even harder.
The Ask Sabrina section of The Weekend West advised that a concoction of 200ml of blackberry and tree killer mixed with one teaspoon of kerosene painted on to the cut sucker immediately, is very effective. Hard-to-kill plants such as oleander and tree of heaven are also susceptible.

Website Herbiguide give this control advice “Cut down the tree and paint the stump with neat glyphosate to reduce regrowth and suckering. Spray regrowth and suckers when they are about 500 mm tall with glyphosate. It re grows vigorously from cut roots and stumps and these sprouts need to be removed continually to exhaust the root system. Access, Grazon and metsulfuron are worth a trial.”

The Meat and Livestock Association of Australia rates Robinia as moderately  palatable for goats in their handbook titled Weed control using goats- a guide to using goats for weed control in pastures. Giving a chemical free option for weed control.

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Heath Benefits?

According to some the black locust has some health benefits and parts of the tree can be used for different therapeutic uses. Infusions  can help burning in the stomach, and with fatigue and nervousness. The flowers can apparently help with wounds and burns- this could be helpful after attempting the removal of thorny suckers.

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

European House Borer

Blocking Borer

Home remedies can be effective, safe and a cheap way to control pests around the home. Passed down from generation to generation these recipes can be pure gold! This week we have looked at a home remedy for Borer.

This home remedy is from the Ask Sabrina section in the West Weekend.

Borer home remedy-

Myrtle writes- I have a home remedy for treating borer that has worked on a lemon-scented gum tree and a local wattle, based on a treatment I’d read for an insect infestation on a grapefruit tree. I used 40 per cent vegetable oil, 20 percent detergent and the rest water, shaken vigorously in a handheld spray bottle. I squirted the mixture into the borer holes and almost immediately borers staggering out and died, presumably suffocated by the oil. Two years later, the lemon scented gum has no sign of the borers and the little holes have filled in. The wattle still had a few residual, but no sign of infestation.

An articel from teh Ask Sabrina section of the Weekend West paper.

 

Borer successfully attack stressed trees-

Stressed trees are weaker and have less defenses against insect such as borers. Healthy trees will often exude resin or kino to try and fight off the attackers. Telltale signs that a tree has borers include fresh exit holes in the timber, tunnels in the wood, bone dust, crumbling wood, dead beetles, adult beetles, eggs, and wood borer larvae. Borer can even disguise their holes using webbing and frass (secreted excreta of insects). Therefore a great way to treat early signs of borers is to improve the health of your tree. Have a look at the environment in which the tree resides, does it need more water or a tonic?

Common bores include; Pinhole Bores, House Longhorn Beetle, Powder Post Beetle, Common Furniture Beetle and Auger Beetles.

Borer pest to look out for-

The European House Borer (EHB) (Hylotrupes bajulus Linnaeus), is a destructive pest of untreated seasoned coniferous timber, such as pine, fir and spruce (Pinus, Abies, Picea, Araucaria and Pseudotsuga species). EHB can  cause major structural damage to buildings.

In Western Australia EHB has been found in susceptible dead trees, logs and living trees with dead wood (dried out damaged branches or trunks). Roof timbers, wall frames, flooring, architraves, door frames and timber articles such as pine furniture, shipping crates, pallets and transport supporting timber and frames can also be susceptible.

EHB has been detected several times previously in Australia but these infestations were eradicated by fumigation. In 2004 EHB was detected in Western Australia, and since then has been found in 60 Perth suburbs.

 

European House Borer

European House Borer Adult Beetle

European House Borer

Signs of European House Borer activity

 

Think you have an insect pest?

You can report pests online here using the MyPestGuide tool. Reports are quick and easy to do and you can include the exact location of the pest and photos as well. The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, aim to respond to reports in 48hrs.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

Exotic ornamental killer – Weed of the Month

Horsetails (Equisetum sp) is an ornamental plant that is sold in nurseries around the state. On the alert list for non-native weeds that are a risk to the environment and biodiversity, this plant is also highly toxic to livestock and is this Months MyWeedWatcher App- Weed of the Month.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

MyWeedWatcher update: March 2017 | Department of Agriculture and Food

Ancient survivors

Horsetails (Equisetum species) is sold as an ornamental, and they are also of interest to people who take the risk of making their own herbal remedies. Sometimes they are used in permaculture or as pond plants.

The erect, jointed stems are of two kinds, vegetative and fertile. Vegetative stems are green and ribbed. They can be a single stem or have whorls of slender leaf-like branches. Fertile stems can be green, white or pale brown, topped by fruiting cones. On both stems the true leaves are reduced to a papery ring around each joint. Once established, the main means of spread is by rhizomes rather than spores.

In a backyard, the worst horsetails can do is smother the area, but if they escape into farmland the consequences are dire. They are toxic to livestock, and in high densities they can reduce crop yield because they produce substances that inhibit the growth of other plants.

In the past, infestations of a horsetail called scouring rush (E. hyemale) have been found in the Perth metropolitan area at nurseries in Bedfordale and the Wanneroo area, and a home garden in Morley. Like all horsetails, this one has a high silica content, and the common name arose from the old practice of using the stems to scrub pots and pans. Several other species, including common horsetail (E. arvense) have been found in the eastern states.

Please report any horsetails seen in the wild, in gardens or at weekend markets. If you have horsetail plants, do not attempt to dispose of them yourself. Please call us for advice as horsetail plants generate readily from fragments. Always take care when ordering plants or seeds via the internet, and never dump any garden rubbish in the bush

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

 Natural Heritage Trust’s Key points on Horsetails

• Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective forms of weed control. Horsetails are so invasive and difficult to control that it is very important to prevent them becoming established.

• Horsetails can be spread over long distances by movement of soil containing rhizomes.

• If not controlled, horsetails could become persistent weeds of cultivated land, pastures and roadsides in temperate regions, especially on damp ground.

• If you see a plant that may be a horsetail species, contact your local council or state or territory weed management agency. Do not attempt control on your own. 

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

 

A pile of pulled out cotton bush

Post fire weed control successful with industry grants help.

Agricultural landholders and land managers in the local government areas of Waroona, Harvey, Murray, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Mandurah were invited to apply for grants to support their efforts to control weeds in early 2017.

An applicant from the Cookernup area said that  “spraying went really well and successfully knocked off the larger cotton bush plants. Now that the summer grass has died off it is easy to see the young emergent cotton bush and we are keeping on top of these by walking the area once a week.” The program had great feedback being easy and straight forward in the application process and the rolling out of the grant funding. The property owner reported that the “..fire although devastating did remove the larger Apple of Sodom plants that had been difficult to remove and its a high priority not to let the weed get established again. Of course weed control is always ongoing especially with the recent rainfall”.

Another applicant from the Yarloop area also had a good experience with the grant program. The applicant stated that ” the contractors provided through the program were fantastic, very knowledgeable and experienced. The contractors were able to effectively control cotton bush in a very steep and rocky area of our property. They were so good we even had them back to spray weeds in the wet areas on our property”. These contractors Western Conservation PTY Ltd can be found on Facebook and have a range of environmental management services they offer.

a pile of pulled out cotton bush

 

Grants from $100 to $1500 were available for the purchase of herbicide, spray packs or the hiring of an appropriate weed control contractor for successful applicants. The grants were available for landholdings used primarily for agriculture or horticulture. Below are two applicants of the program sharing their experiences. The grant was a coordinated program combining the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, Peel Harvey Catchment Council and Greening Australia. Funding was supplied through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

 

 The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group wish all applicants luck with their weed control support provided through the grants and look forward to hearing more success stories in the future.