Banana freckle: biosecurity alert

Page last updated: Friday, 16 September 2022 - 11:11am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Banana freckle was detected in Dwarf Cavendish banana fruit in the Northern Territory in May 2022. The Northern Territory Government is responding to this new detection. Western Australia has movement controls in place for risk material from the Northern Territory.

Banana freckle, caused by the fungus Phyllosticta cavendishii, is a disease of bananas that can affect the productivity of plants, fruit appearance and marketability. It is not known to occur in WA. Its early detection and reporting will help protect WA banana industry.

What plants are affected?

  • Banana freckle infects bananas (Musa species), including Cavendish bananas, the main commercial cultivar grown in Western Australia.

What do I look for?

  • Rough, freckle-like spots that occur on infected fruit and leaves.
  • Spots are raised, brown-black in colour and about 1 mm in diameter.
  • Infected fruit or leaves have a rough, sandpaper feel.
  • Severe infection can result in yellowing of the leaves.

How does the disease survive and spread?

  • Banana freckle infects banana leaves and fruits at any growth stage.
  • It can survive in live plant parts and even detached leaves.
  • It generally moves short distances by water droplet splash and wind-driven rain.
  • It is spread over larger distances by people moving infected fruit; leaves and any items contaminated with infested plant material.

What damage can this disease cause?

  • Banana freckle causes blemishes to the fruit that reduce their commercial value and marketability.
  • Leaf infection can result in yellowing, premature withering and dying impacting on vigour and yield.
  • It is not harmful to human health and eating qualities of the fruit are not affected.

Status in Western Australia

Phyllosticta cavendishii is absent from Western Australia and is a quarantine pest. It is a prohibited organism under section 12 of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.

Western Australia's Pest Freedom for banana freckle is supported by general and specific surveillance, and specific import requirements to prevent its entry. A person who finds or suspects the presence of banana freckle in plantations, nurseries or urban areas must report it to DPIRD.

What do I do if I find it?

It is important that any suspect banana freckle occurrence is reported. Early detection and eradication will help protect Western Australia’s fruit production and nursery industries. If you find or suspect plants with banana freckle, please make a report using MyPestGuide® or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) to report this pest. Do not disturb the plant. Do not move, compost, or dispose of suspect plants.

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