AgMemo Northern Agricultural Region

Farm biosecurity remains vital in the wake of cucurbit virus

Two men standing with an example of farm entry signage that states "Visitors, please respect farm biosecurity"
DAFWA Technical Officer David Tooke and Truyen Vo from Vegetables WA explaining the imporantce of front gate signage at a Farm Biosecurity Information Workshop held in Geraldton in August.

Farm biosecurity remains vital in the wake of cucurbit virus

With Cucumber Green Mottled Mosaic virus (CGMMV) now confirmed on commercial cucurbit properties in Kununurra, Geraldton, Carnarvon and Perth, it is imperative that growers start developing and implementing farm biosecurity plans.

CGMMV infects cucurbit crops - including watermelon, cucumber, melons, zucchini, pumpkin, squash, bitter gourd, and bottle gourd. CGMMV can cause substantial crop losses.

The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) stresses that farm biosecurity planning is particularly important for growers in the north and south west preparing for the summer growing season.

DAFWA Manager Paul Findlater said farm biosecurity planning and implementation was vital even if CGMMV has not been found in an area, as the threat from other pests and diseases remained ever present.

“Farm biosecurity measures are applicable to the management of any pest and disease threat,” he said.

“In Carnarvon, growers not only need to consider the threat of CGMMV, but also Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus (ZYMV), with reports of this virus increasing.

“Most importantly, biosecurity measures should include removal and destruction of old crops and wild or volunteer plants before planting. Any plants showing virus symptoms should be removed before fruit set.

“Of course, biosecurity should also include good hygiene practices and avoiding the movement of vehicles, machinery and people.”
Mr Findlater said these suggested measures were also relevant for growers in the southern part of the state who are about to start planting summer crops.

“Even where cucurbits are not being grown over summer, such as in Kununurra, farm biosecurity should not be ignored.

“Growers in Kununurra should also be removing weeds and volunteer cops from fruit that has been ploughed in, as they could become hosts for CGMMV.

“Correct disposal of any possible host material is also very important to prevent spread of the virus to next year’s crop. DAFWA and the Australian Melons Association are preparing instructions on various management options, including how to dispose of infected crops to minimise spread and level of infection. These will be made available to growers in the near future.”

DAFWA also hopes to provide growers with sampling kits, as self-sampling should be part of ongoing farm biosecurity.

DAFWA has been delivering these messages through a series of CGMMV information sessions and farm biosecurity practical demonstrations throughout the state. This has included Kununurra, Carnarvon, Geraldton, and Jandabup (north of Perth).

Further workshops will be held in mid-January in Manjimup and Harvey.

DAFWA Technical Officer David Tooke, who has been delivering the workshops, advised there was no ‘one size fits all’ when it came to farm biosecurity plans.

“The onus is on the growers to tailor these measures to their own properties,” he said.

There is no clear indication of how CGMMV entered WA – possibly through a number of different pathways. Therefore, farm biosecurity is the only effective means of preventing infection and spread.

Basic farm biosecurity measures

Farm biosecurity workshops throughout the State have been delivered by David Tooke, with Vietnamese translation provided by Truyen Vo from Vegetables WA.

The workshops highlighted the imprtance of:

  • a front entry gate and signage instructing visitors to report to the office
  • designated visitor car-park
  • sign-in procedures for visitors
  • enter clean, leave clean – footwear and hand washing stations at entry to farm and at each plot or glasshouse
  • tools and equipment remaining in each workspace
  • vehicles being washed down each time they are moved between work areas
  • disposable protective equipment to prevent clothing contamination
  • preparation of virus-specific cleaner
  • disposing of used cleaner in a safe manner at the end of each day.

All workshops have been well attended with attendees receiving farm biosecurity signs.

In addition to the workshops, DAFWA staff from across the state have been working in Geraldton, Carnarvon, Kununurra and Perth to sample properties and determine the extent of the virus.

More information about the CGMMV response can be found on the DAFWA CGMMV web pages.

For more information contact Paul Findlater, CGMMV Incident Controller, Geraldton Office on +61 (0)8 9956 8555.