DANGER: An example of a plant infected with cucumber green mottle mosaic virus. A suspected case has been found on a Bundaberg region farm.
DANGER: An example of a plant infected with cucumber green mottle mosaic virus. A suspected case has been found on a Bundaberg region farm. Contributed

BREAKING: Dreaded virus confirmed on Bundaberg farms

BIOSECURITY Queensland has confirmed a case of Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus in a commercially-grown greenhouse cucumber crop in Bundaberg.

In a release from the department, Queensland Chief Plant Health Manager Mike Ashton said Biosecurity Queensland had completed diagnostic testing of samples collected by its officers to confirm the presence of CGMMV at a Bundaberg business.

CGMMV has been confirmed at four sites in the Bundaberg district that are owned by the business. All four properties have been declared 'restricted places' under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

"Our first priority is to continue working with the affected business to develop a management plan to eradicate the virus from the greenhouses," Mr Ashton said.

"While we are working with the Bundaberg facility to minimise disruption to their business as much as possible, stringent biosecurity measures have been put in place to minimise the risk of spread to other properties.

"The business owners have been very cooperative, and I commend them on their prompt action and the high level of biosecurity they already had in place prior to this detection."

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers managing director Bree Grima voiced concerns last week about the virus.

"Cucurbits in the region represent a $150 million farm gate value," Mrs Grima said.

Earlier today she said if the virus was confirmed, it would call into question everyday practices allowing outsiders onto farm premises, from backpackers to agronomists and chemical company representatives.

Local growers were nervous during the week prior to the confirmation, with cucumber farmer Gianni Rosetto saying while it was not on his farm, the possible presence of the virus was "a worry" and associated Biosecurity measures could be costly.

IT'S A WORRY: Cucumber grower Gianni Rosetto said there was no suspected CGMMV on his property but he was concerned about its presence in the region.
IT'S A WORRY: Cucumber grower Gianni Rosetto said there was no suspected CGMMV on his property but he was concerned about its presence in the region. Eliza Goetze

Mr Ashton said Biosecurity Queensland is undertaking surveillance in Bundaberg and other production districts to confirm that CGMMV has not spread to other parts of the state.

"Tracing investigations will also be conducted to try and identify the source of the infection. While we ultimately may not be able to confirm the source, this Bundaberg detection is not thought to be related to the previous case in melons in Charters Towers in 2015," he said.

"Biosecurity Queensland is finalising its surveillance activities on the Charters Towers property to prove the disease has been eradicated from that property, which will be good news for the industry.

"This case demonstrates that it is possible for an infected business to continue to operate, and eventually be declared free of the disease, if the right biosecurity procedures are put in place."

Mr Ashton said growers should remain vigilant for CGMMV by regularly checking their crops for the virus and reporting any suspect cases to Biosecurity Queensland.

"CGMMV affects cucurbit species, such as cucumber, melons, watermelon, bitter-gourd, bottle gourd, zucchini, pumpkin and squash," he said.

"CGMMV is transmitted mechanically by wounds made with cutting tools, farming equipment, or chewing insects such as beetles. The virus can also be passed to other plants by root grafting or any handling of the crop.

"Growers are reminded of the need to maintain good on-farm biosecurity practices to mitigate the risks from CGMMV and other biosecurity threats."

For more information on CGMMV, visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

Listen to Mike Ashton, Chief Plant Health Manager, talk about CGMMV found in Bundaberg.

Follow Biosecurity Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@BiosecurityQld).


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