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Myrtle rust found in Taranaki

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/05/2017

© @MPI_NZ / Twitter Myrtle rust has been found in a Taranaki plant nursery, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

Symptoms of the devastating fungal infection were found on young plants in a nursery in Waitara on Tuesday, and MPI confirmed the presence on Wednesday.

Like the nursery in Kerikeri, movement controls have been placed on the Taranaki property, MPI's myrtle rust response incident controller David Yard says .

"The earlier we locate a new infection, the greater the chance of doing something about it. As with Kerikeri, we'll be throwing everything at it to attempt to control it, but we are realistic that it is a huge challenge, given how readily the spores are spread by the wind."

Last week plant nurseries at risk of myrtle rust infection in Kerikeri were placed under legal control by the MPI.

The fungal plant disease was located in a Kerikeri nursery in early May, before spreading to a neighbouring residential garden.

All plant producers and retailers in the Kerikeri area, as well as 45 additional nurseries nationwide, must follow these protocols, which increase the chance of early myrtle rust detection.

More than 100 government staff are working to contain the spread, and have been handed a blank cheque for their mission.

Myrtle rust 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.

Mr Yard has thanked the Taranaki nursery owner for being responsible and calling in the threat.

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