Myrtle rust found in new region

22 March 2018

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced earlier this week that myrtle rust has been detected in Manawatu for the first time.

The fungus was found on a young ramarama in a planted area off Victoria Esplanade in Palmerston North.

The infected plant will be removed and securely disposed of and a surveillance team will start inspecting myrtle plants on all properties within a 200-metre radius.

As at this Monday, there have been a total of 409 properties affected by myrtle rust: Northland (four properties), Auckland (63), Waikato (33), Bay of Plenty (92), Taranaki (200), Manawatu (1) and Wellington (16). In the last couple of weeks, most detections have been in Taranaki and Auckland.

Although myrtle rust doesn’t affect kiwifruit plants, it is still important growers check myrtle plants on their properties and in their gardens. At this time of year, the fungus is still in its ‘spreading’ stage and is very visible. Without touching the plant, you can look on either side of the leaves and new shoots for any sign of a bright yellow, powdery eruption. Some leaves could also be buckled or twisted or look diseased with dry pustules that are grey or brown.

It’s important not to touch the plants or brush against them, as this can disrupt the spores and speed up its spread.

Any suspected cases of myrtle rust can be reported to the MPI hotline on 0800 80 99 66. MPI will investigate suspected cases, track and monitor spread, and collect information to help understand the disease’s impact on New Zealand.

KVH has recently taken part in myrtle rust surveillance training with Tauranga Moana Iwi, focused especially around Mauao/Mount Maunganui, to help raise awareness of the fungus, what to look out for, and what to do if symptoms are seen.