News & Media

Alert issued following detection of new pest of potatoes

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 6. July 2017 - 8:00

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is urging potato growers to be alert for signs of disease in crops following the detection of a new bacteria.

Department Irrigated Agriculture Executive Director John Ruprecht said the bacteria Dickeya dianthicola had been confirmed in a commercial potato crop north of Perth.

Dickeya dianthicola can cause the diseases blackleg and soft rot in potatoes.

These diseases are already present in Australia but it is the first time this new bacteria has been found.

“The department has measures in place to contain the bacteria and is carrying out tracing and surveillance to determine its spread,” Mr Ruprecht said.

“This detection comes at a very difficult time for our horticulture industry, in particular potato growers, following market access issues as a result of the detection of the pest, tomato potato psyllid, earlier this year.

“The department will be working with the WA industry and national stakeholders to minimise the impact of this new pest.”

A commercial property where the bacteria has been found is under quarantine, restricting the movement of plant material and equipment from the properties.

A suspect property and two trace properties in the South-West have also been quarantined.

Dickeya dianthicola is a significant production risk for potatoes, leading to reduced yields.

Blackleg of potatoes caused by existing bacteria species already occurs in Australia. Dickeya dianthicola is more aggressive and causes disease at lower infection levels.

Disease symptoms include pre-emergence tuber rot, leading to blackleg, aerial stem rot and tuber soft rot. Slimy, black rot lesion is a characteristic symptom of blackleg.

Other host plants include globe artichoke, chicory, dahlia and flaming Katy.

Growers should report any unusual plant symptoms to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881.

Dickeya dianthicola is found on potatoes in Europe and the USA, and in ornamental crops in the USA, Japan, New Zealand and the Columbia.

Growers are also reminded to follow good farm biosecurity procedures to prevent the entry, establishment and spread of pests and diseases.

Media contacts:

Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison               +61 (0)8 9368 3937/3325