The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is working with the State’s horticulture industries to manage the Dickeya dianthicola bacteria, following a national decision that it cannot be eradicated.
Department Irrigated Agriculture Executive Director John Ruprecht said the bacteria was detected for the first time in Australia in June in a potato crop north of Perth, prompting an immediate biosecurity response.
Dickeya dianthicola has been found in dahlia tubers in WA and freesia bulbs imported from Victoria.
The bacteria has also been detected on dahlia tubers grown on a commercial property in Victoria.
“Dickeya dianthicola can cause blackleg and soft rot diseases in potatoes, and affect other horticultural crops including some ornamental varieties, chicory and globe artichoke,” Mr Ruprecht said.
“The department has carried out extensive tracing, surveillance and testing of samples to determine the spread of the bacteria.”
Further tracing activities are also being undertaken in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.
Mr Ruprecht said the National Management Group, which includes government and industry representatives, announced this week that it was not technically feasible to eradicate the bacteria, and supported a management approach to minimise the impact of the bacteria on production.
“This detection came at a very difficult time for our horticulture industry following the detection of the insect pest, tomato potato psyllid, earlier this year,” he said.
“The department will work with industry to develop management options for Dickeya dianthicola through the WA Potato Certified Seed Scheme and Registration Rules, on-farm biosecurity and best management practices.”
Mr Ruprecht said during the 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.