Psyllid tests could help potato market access

David CharlesworthHarvey-Waroona Reporter

Potato farmers could see Eastern States markets reopen in the near future which are still closed to WA following the tomato potato psyllid outbreak last year.

Potato Growers Association of WA chief executive officer Simon Moltoni said the potato industry and State Government were working through the Transition to Management Plan, with the aim to reopen market access.

“We still haven’t regained market access to the East coast,” Mr Moltoni said.

“That’s been a major issue to our growers.

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“We’re still able to sell internationally.”

Last year four properties in Myalup were quarantined due to the psyllid, however no properties in WA are under quarantine any longer.

The plan was worked out by the State Government with national industry bodies and other State governments to manage the impact of the psyllid and any future risks.

Mr Moltoni said under one part of the plan, research was being done on chemical and biological controls for the psyllid, which were being tested in a greenhouse environment.

During spring the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development undertook testing of psyllids, looking for the bacteria, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which causes the damage to the crops.

During this testing period, 28,000 psyllids were captured of which 8000 were tested for the bacteria.

Mr Moltoni said those tests came back negative and if the autumn round of testing this March returned the same result, discussions could begin to reopen interstate markets.

Mr Moltoni said the potato industry and the State Government were prepared in the event of positive or negative results of the autumn testing.

“We can’t start the discussion until the tests come back,” he said.

“Industry is very keen to start that conversation as soon as possible.”

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