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Two more properties found with myrtle rust

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/05/2017

© @MPI_NZ / Twitter Two more plant businesses in Taranaki have been confirmed as infected with myrtle rust.

The businesses are a nursery in Waitara and a garden centre in downtown New Plymouth, the Ministry for Primary Industries said on Friday.

It brings the total number of affected properties nationwide to five: a nursery and adjoining property in Kerikeri, two plant nurseries in Waitara and the New Plymouth garden centre.

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

MPI is working to contain the outbreaks.

David Yard, from the ministry's myrtle response team, says the new finds are "disappointing but not unexpected".

"The ministry expects to continue to find new locations of infection, given the most likely scenario is that the fungal spores entered New Zealand from Australia during a major wind event," he said.

The infected locations are being treated with fungicide, risk plants are being safely destroyed, and surveillance is underway in the areas surrounding the properties for signs of the disease, Mr Yard said.

MPI confirmed the devastating fungal infection had reached Waitara on Wednesday, after symptoms were found on young plants in a nursery.

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.

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