Myrtle rust response – media update 19 May 2017

Date:

Media contact: MPI media team

Telephone: 029 8940328

Email: media@mpi.govt.nz

2 further properties in Taranaki have been confirmed positive with myrtle rust infection today (19 May 2017).

Both are plant businesses – one a further nursery in Waitara and the other a garden centre in New Plymouth.

This brings the total number of known affected properties to 5 – a nursery and adjoining property in Kerikeri, 2 plant nurseries in Waitara and a garden centre in New Plymouth.

The new finds are disappointing but not unexpected. The Ministry expects to continue to find new locations of infection given the most likely scenario is that the fungal spores entered New Zealand from Australia during a major wind event.

All infected properties are Restricted Places, meaning there are restrictions on the movement of plants or other risk materials off the sites. Locations are being treated with fungicide, risk plants are being safely destroyed, and surveillance is underway in the areas surrounding the properties for signs of the disease.

There are 2 main reasons why the rust is being found in plant nurseries. Growing conditions there are ideal for the fungus with many vulnerable young plants in sheltered, warm and damp environments. In addition, there has been a large amount of communication with the nursery industry and growers have been particularly vigilant in checking their plants.

Once again MPI thanks the nursery operators who have notified the 0800 number of suspicious symptoms.

MPI continues to encourage members of the public to report any suspected signs of myrtle rust to MPI's Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. Do not touch the rust or the plant. Note the location and take photos of the symptoms and the plant.

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