The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, in conjunction with the Western Australian potato industry, will implement a management strategy for the plant pest Dickeya dianthicola following a national decision that it cannot be eradicated.
The bacterial pathogen has been detected in seed potato crops in WA, dahlia tubers in WA and freesia bulbs imported from Victoria. The pathogen has also been detected on dahlia tubers grown on a commercial property in Victoria.
Further tracing activities are being undertaken by Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and WA, including testing of available potato tubers, dahlia tubers in Victoria and WA, and freesia bulbs from Victoria.
Quarantine restrictions on five commercial properties in WA have been lifted.
The Potato Growers Association of WA (PGAWA) will lead management efforts to minimise industry impacts. This will include raising grower awareness of buyer responsibility to understand the risks of spread.
DPIRD will provide technical advice, fee for service laboratory testing and will work with PGAWA to modify the Certified Seed Scheme and Registration Rules to manage the disease.
On-farm biosecurity will also be vital to minimising spread, and the department strongly urges all growers to put in place, or maintain biosecurity measures. A number of information sheets on farm biosecurity can be found on the DPIRD website.
This response has highlighted the benefits of establishing strong working relationships with industry representatives and growers from day one. This enabled the department to work with quarantined property owners to allow for business operations to continue without risking spread of the disease to other properties.
All potato, vegetable and flower growers as well as production nurseries need to be vigilant for signs of this pest in their crops. If you think your plants may be affected call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
The National Management Group (NMG) decision that the pest is not technically feasible to eradicate is based on the recommendation provided by the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests.
This committee, which includes representatives from all federal, state and territory agriculture departments, affected industries and Plant Health Australia, provides recommendations to the NMG on a number of matters relating to an incursion, including on whether or not it is technically feasible to eradicate a pest.
Tracing and surveillance
Throughout the response, the department collected samples from 27 properties and undertook tracing activities to 64 properties to determine the extent of the outbreak.
This tracing provided important information to prevent further spread of the bacteria throughout Australia. Additional tracing activities are being undertaken by Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and WA.
As part of this response, the department’s laboratory staff modified an existing PCR testing process to allow for rapid, high-throughput testing of potato tubers for Dickeya dianthicola. This allowed samples to be tested in groups, or batches, rather than testing individual samples, significantly reducing the waiting times for testing results.
There are currently no additional interstate trade restrictions being considered for potatoes apart from those restrictions in place for the tomato potato psyllid.
The international market access for WA potatoes remains unaffected.
Industry contacts for growers
Potato Growers Association of WA
Phone: (08) 9481 0834
- agric.wa.gov.au/ddianthicola for:
- Biosecurity checklist for growers
- Biosecurity checklist for potato wash/packers
- Decontamination guidelines
- Destruction and disposal guidelines
- Dickeya dianthicola in potatoes
- Dickeya dianthicola in dahlias
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Links to useful soft rot and blackleg management techniques
Pest and Disease Information Service
Phone: 1800 084 881