Protect your plants from myrtle rust

27 July 2017

Myrtle rust finds in the Te Puke region (on residential properties only) are continuing to be investigated. Although myrtle rust doesn’t affect kiwifruit or kiwifruit vines this is an important and timely reminder for all growers to look out for symptoms on Myrtaceae trees and shrubs around orchards and in gardens.

Myrtle rust could affect iconic New Zealand plants like pōhutukawa, kānuka, manuka, ramarama and rātā, as well as species such as eucalyptus, guava and feijoa.

To protect any myrtaceae species on your property (eg in your garden or orchard), you may want to consider spraying them with copper at label rates.

While it’s anticipated that winter conditions will suppress rust symptoms and spread, continued vigilance, inspections and adherence to best practice is crucial. Come spring, growing conditions will again be ideal for the fungus.

Be on the lookout for:
- bright yellow powdery eruptions appearing on the underside of the leaf (young infection)
- bright yellow powdery eruptions on both sides of the leaf (mature infection)
- brown/grey rust pustules (older spores) which can appear on older lesions
- buckled or twisted leaves which may die off.

If you see any of these symptoms call MPI immediately on 0800 80 99 66. Take a photo but don’t touch or take samples as this might increase spread of the disease.

It’s also important to remember that good hygiene practices should always be followed to help manage biosecurity threats, particularly KVH hygiene recommendations. The key points are:
- check and clean tools, vehicles, machinery, people and clothing
- ensure everything coming across your boundary is free from soil and plant material
- sanitise highest risk items and wash down dirty areas.