A Victorian minister has issued a warning about the dangers of fruit fly during a visit to the region yesterday.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh visited an orchard near Cobram yesterday to remind motorists not to risk carrying fruit fly into Victoria’s most productive fruit growing regions.
Mr Walsh said it was crucial drivers were aware of the threat Queensland fruit fly outbreaks posed and their responsibility not to carry host material into the state’s major fruit growing areas.
“Queensland fruit fly is one of the world’s worst horticultural pests and poses a serious risk to our fruit industries by lowering production, making fruit inedible and disrupting local and international trade,” Mr Walsh said.
“Fruit flies will infest nearly all fruits, as well as tomatoes, capsicums and chillies, and a single piece can carry a number of fruit fly maggots. Just one female fruit fly reaching adulthood can lay up to 800 eggs in her lifetime.’’
The Department of Primary Industries warned Victoria was facing one of the worst seasons for Queensland fruit fly outbreaks and 28 cases had been found in the Goulburn Valley region this year. Ten outbreaks were reported in October alone at Mooroopna, Cobram, Echuca, Katamatite, Kyabram, Murchison, Nathalia, Numurkah and Strathmerton which all required chemical control.
“If these flies are left unchecked they can rapidly spread through a fruit or vegetable growing area, resulting in unsaleable crops and the loss of markets, as well as expensive measures to control the pest which affect growers’ bottom lines,’’ Mr Walsh said.
“The best way to prevent the spread of fruit fly is not to travel with fruit or vegetables at all, whether they are grown in the backyard or purchased from a retail outlet.’’
Motorists cannot carry fresh fruit or vegetables into Victoria’s main fruit growing areas and heavy fines apply for carrying host material into fruit fly exclusion zones.
Orchadist Adrian Conti had never seen a fruit fly until last year and he’s never spotted one on a commercial orchard where control measures are constant. He agreed with Mr Walsh that it is back yard fruit trees where populations can grow unnoticed and unchecked.
‘‘We’re always in fear of fruit fly,’’ Mr Conti said.
Mr Walsh said residents in declared outbreak areas and the Sunraysia Greater Pest Free Area also had a role to play in combating the pest by keeping their gardens free of rotting fruit.
“It’s crucial that residents keep an eye on their backyard fruit trees, pick host fruit or vegetables as they ripen and quickly dispose of any fallen fruit,” Mr Walsh said.
“Unwanted fruit or vegetables should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left in the sun for five days to kill any fruit fly maggots that may be present, then disposed of in the rubbish.”
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