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Plant movements restricted to stop rust

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017

The fight against myrtle rust has stepped up, with legal restrictions put in place to stop affected species and green waste out of an area in Taranaki.

The number of infections found across the country grew to 46 last week, the vast majority being in Taranaki, but there have been cases identified in Bay of Plenty, Northland and King Country.

Ministry for Primary Industries myrtle rust response incident controller David Yard says to help control any spread of myrtle rust from the most infected area around Waitara, MPI has imposed a controlled area extending 10km out from the known infected properties.

"It is illegal to move any plants or trees belonging to the myrtle family [pohutukawa, manuka, rata, ramarama, Lilly Pilly, eucalyptus] and any garden waste, fruit like feijoa or guava, or prunings from those plants out of this area," he said.

Mr Yard said during the colder winter months, myrtle rust symptoms are suppressed and it is proving difficult to get a good measure of exactly where the disease is present and the scale of the outbreak.

"We could be dealing with an extensive outbreak, but there remains some possibility we may only have a small level of infection that could ultimately be eradicated.

"Until the weather warms up and any infection present becomes much more visible, we need to do everything possible to contain and destroy it in the areas we know about."

He said garden waste should be disposed of within the controlled area - such as at the Waitara transfer station or the New Plymouth landfill.

Myrtle family plants can still be bought and planted within the zone, Mr Yard said.

There are no restrictions on plant movements or planting anywhere else in New Zealand.

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

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