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A Taranaki myrtle rust find 'extensive'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017
© @MPI_NZ / Twitter

An extensive infection of myrtle rust has been found in a Taranaki pohutukawa hedge as biosecurity officials say they have treated the country's first find of the plant disease in Northland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries on Monday said they had identified a total of 25 rust infections: 20 in Taranaki, three in Northland and two in Waikato. They were at a mix of plant nurseries, private gardens, retailers/distributors and an orchard.

The fungal disease was first found at a Kerikeri, Northland, nursery in early May. It attacks native trees, such as pohutukawa and rata, and could cause serious damage to manuka trees, used in honey production.

There is no known method for controlling it in the wild, other than applying fungicide in very small areas.

"One of the most recent detections is an extensive infection in a very established pohutukawa hedge belt in Taranaki," the ministry said in Monday's update.

However, they had cleared the first identified infected property, Kerikeri Plant Production, to reopen following the destruction and safe removal of all affected plants and treatment with fungicide.

"Plants from this nursery are safe for sale and distribution."

Taranaki's Big Jims retail outlet will reopen on Wednesday following treatment.

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