Learning more about the spread of myrtle rust

25 January 2018

The latest update from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) late last week confirmed there are now 218 properties infected with myrtle rust, including 13 reinfections.

Nine new sites have been confirmed in Taranaki, Waikato, Auckland, Wellington and the Bay of Plenty – where there is now a total of 50 infected sites.

Surveillance continues in the known affected areas as well as high-risk areas in Northland, and the top of the South Island. The Department of Conservation (DOC) will undertake further surveillance in targeted areas on public conservation land through to March.

Myrtle rust has proven to be very aggressive in some New Zealand conditions. As a result, MPI is focusing efforts and resources in areas that will ensure the very best chance to minimise the impacts of the disease in the longer term, and is adapting to a long-term management approach.

Although myrtle rust doesn’t affect kiwifruit plants or vines, you may see it on other plants on your orchard or home garden. There are recommendations for home gardeners, nursey owners, and beekeepers on the MPI website.

If you think you have found myrtle rust, don’t touch it – take a photo and call MPI on 0800 80 99 66. Be on the lookout for big yellow powdery eruptions on either or both sides of the leaf; brown/grey rust pustules (older spores) which appear on older lesions; and buckled or twisted leaves which may die off.

A useful free app - Myrtle Rust Reporter - has also been created to quickly and easily let officials know of any symptoms.