New approach to manage myrtle rust

19 April 2018

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Conservation (DOC) say the fight against myrtle rust is changing gear, given the prevalence of the disease across susceptible parts of New Zealand.

Response activities will now move from intensive surveillance and the removal and destruction of host plants, to managing the disease over the long term.

Efforts will now be placed on a science programme designed to lift understanding around myrtle rust such as ways to treat it, resistance and susceptibility, and to improve seed banking collection. A second key focus is on working with communities across New Zealand to support regional efforts to combat the disease.

As of last Friday, 582 properties are known to have been infected by the fungal disease since it was first detected on mainland New Zealand in mid-May 2017. Since then, more than 5000 myrtle plants have been securely removed and destroyed, and more than 95,000 myrtle plants inspected.

The latest update from MPI confirms the disease has been found on 134 properties in the Bay of Plenty, 11 of which are new sites from within the last fortnight.

Although myrtle rust doesn’t affect kiwifruit or kiwifruit vines, growers are encouraged to continue to report any possible cases they suspect on other plants in their orchards or in their gardens to the MPI biosecurity hotline on 0800 80 99 66. This is so that the spread of myrtle rust can be tracked, and officials can better understand what its long-term impacts might be.

Read more about the new long-term approach to myrtle rust here.