Biosecurity

The Australian blueberry industry is one of the most premium blueberry industries in the world.  Good biosecurity practices are a simple way to protect ourselves from new pests and maintain our reputation in global markets.

Australia has a world class biosecurity system, but as long as international trade and people movement occurs, there will always be the risk that new plant pests will enter the country. Pests can also be spread to Australia through natural means, such as wind and water currents. Comprehensive biosecurity systems help ensure Australia’s food security and food safety, while good biosecurity practices protect our farmers’ productivity and make good business sense. [Plant Health Australia]

Preparing an on-farm biosecurity plan

The best defence against pests and diseases is  o implement sound biosecurity practices on your farm. Quick and simple measures built into everyday practice will help protect your farm and your future. This farm biosecurity planner will help assess the biosecurity risks on your farm and illustrate steps to address them. Refer to the planner periodically to check on progress and prioritise actions.  A biosecurity action plan will help you identify and prioritise the implementation of biosecurity practices relevant to your property. When devising a plan for your farm, the biosecurity essentials are a good place to start.

The essentials are:

  • Farm inputs
  • Farm outputs
  • People, vehicles and equipment
  • Production practices
  • Weeds
  • Train, plan & record

The NSW Department of Primary Industries have recently published a “Farm Biosecurity Planner for blueberries and other berry industries” and this is available as a hard copy planner direct from the department.

Order a copy of the Farm Biosecurity Planner

Spotted-Winged Drosophila (SWD)

The spotted winged drosophila (SWD, Drosophila suzukii) is a major horticultural pest affecting many crops particularly soft-skinned fruit including berries (e.g. blueberries), stonefruit and grapes. The larvae of SWD feed internally on host fruit and can cause losses of over 40 per cent in blueberries. In addition to larval feeding, crop losses are also attributed to damage during egg laying (oviposition) and secondary infection of the fruit.

  • Attacks a range of soft skinned fruit species
  • Egg deposition and larval feeding can occur in maturing, firm fruit
  • Small (2-3 mm in length) flies with yellow-brown colouring, dark bands on the abdomens and red eyes
  • Males have a dark spot on the tip of their forewings
  • Larvae feed internally on fruit, are cream coloured and about 3 mm long
  • Secondary infections can occur at egg laying sites, leading to fruit rot
  • Flies spread throughout crops by flight or longer distances with infested plant material

SWD is NOT yet found in Australia, and it is only through continued vigilance that we can keep it out.

Where is it now?

SWD is native to south east Asia but has spread to other parts of Asia, North America and Europe, where it has become a serious pest.

How can I protect my farm and garden from spotted winged drosophila?

Check your crop frequently for the presence of new pests and unusual symptoms. In particular, check your crop for SWD activity such as fruit damage of both immature and ripe fruit. Make sure you are familiar with common blueberry pests so when monitoring your crops for pests you will be alert to the possible presence of exotic pests.

Male spotted-winged Drosophila

Image courtesy of Matt Bertone, North Carolina State University Extension

Male and female Drosophila suzukii

Image courtesy of Shane F. McEvey, Australian Museum

More information

Plant Health Australia have created a fact sheet about SWD in Blueberries and this can be downloaded below.

There is also a poster version of this leaflet which you can print & share with your farm team to ensure they know what to look out for.

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