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The Northern Territory (NT) Government is currently responding to a new detection of banana freckle disease (Phyllosticta cavendishii) in the territory. With this news, all Australian banana growers should be aware of the signs and symptoms of banana freckle and regularly check their banana plants for signs of the disease.
About banana freckle
Banana freckle is a pest of banana leaves and fruit caused by a fungal pathogen. The disease reduces the productivity of banana plants and causes blemishes on the fruit. Affected bananas are safe to eat but blemishes on the skin reduce their visual appeal.
Banana freckle has been recorded in 27 countries across South-east Asia, Oceania and India. A strain of banana freckle that infects Lady Finger and Bluggoe (non-Cavendish cultivars) bananas is already present and established in Australia, but the new strain detected that infects Cavendish bananas is not established.
What to look for
The most characteristic symptom of freckle are dark raised spots and a sandpaper feel to infected (spotted) leaves and fruit. This is caused by the fungal spore structures protruding through the surface of the leaf tissue or fruit peel. On fruit, individual spots first appear as minute, reddish-brown flecks surrounded by a halo of dark-green, water-soaked tissue.
The importance of reporting
Banana growers, householders and banana production nurseries, especially in northern Australia, should check their banana plants regularly and report any signs of disease. If you suspect banana freckle, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
Following confirmation of the disease, states may have restrictions in place that prohibits banana fruit and/or banana plant material being brought in from the NT. Growers should check for any requirements before sending any bananas out of the NT.
For more information on banana freckle visit https://www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/pests/banana-freckle.
For the latest information on banana freckle in the NT visit https://nt.gov.au/industry/agriculture/food-crops-plants-and-quarantine/banana-freckle.
For more information on banana growers in Australia visit https://abgc.org.au.