Next NQ cyclone a banana disease threat

North Queensland banana growers fear the next cyclone to hit the area could spread a disastrous crop disease that has taken a foothold in the region.

The next cyclone to hit north Queensland could have disastrous long-term consequences for Australia's biggest banana-producing region, potentially spreading a devastating crop disease that has reached the area.

Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) director Leon Collins said a cyclone could spread the Panama disease tropical disease, which would be "game over" for crops.

"Once you've got it in your area it will never be settled. It's something we'll have to deal with for the rest of our lives," he said.

Far-north Queensland is yet to experience a large cyclonic event or huge wet since the discovery of Panama disease in Tully in 2015.

The last major cyclones to hit the region were Yasi in 2011 and Larry in 2006.

Both events devastated banana plantations in the area and drove up prices to around $15/kg, but if a cyclone was to spread Panama disease, which can live in the soil for up to 90 years, the effects could be more long-lasting.

The ABGC is urging farmers to ensure they are cyclone ready to reduce the risk of Panama TR4 contamination, which occurs largely through soil and water movement.

"We take all the precautions we can do, but as far as rainfall and the movement of soil, that is one thing we haven't got control over. When you have a cyclonic event you've got both," Mr Collins said.

ABGC is also reminding growers to access resources available on their website which can assist in planning and recovering from a severe storm.

Most importantly, it has told farmers to ensure their contact information is up to date and clearly visible on biosecurity signage at the entrance to their properties.

By doing so emergency services and other authorities can be made aware of the situation when moving through the area following a storm.

Source AAP

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