Citrus Canker

Citrus canker is a serious bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri. It commonly appears after heavy rain and high temperatures. It can be spread by wind and rain and, can also be spread over longer distances by people moving infected plant material or equipment.

Plant Part: Leaves, fruit and stems

Season: Spring - Autumn

Symptoms: Infected plants have lesions that increase in size to 5-10 millimetres (mm) over several months. Eventually the lesions collapse forming a crater-like appearance. They become surrounded by characteristic yellow halos. The raised edges of the lesion may appear slimy. Plants with the disease may have sluggish growth and reduced fruit quality and quantity and will eventually die.

Control: Citrus Canker was found in the Northern Territory in early 2018 and has nearly been eradicated in 2020 through extensive control procedures that still must be adhered to in aiding the control of this highly contagious bacteria. If you see infected plant tissue with citrus canker or anything unusual, report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881. This will put you in touch with the Department of Primary Industries or agriculture in your state or territory.

Preventative: This disease is a great example of why you should keep a tidy garden – remove all garden waste correctly and keep your gardening tools clean. Garden waste comprises of leaves and fallen fruit, removing it (do not place diseased waste in your compost but dispose of it in your red bin) and freshening up your mulch regularly will prevent fungal and bacterial diseases taking hold.

When it comes to your secateurs and spades, sterilising them between trees will only take a minute by dipping your tools in either a watered down mixture of either eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil. When you have finished for the day, clean your tools in a watered-down solution of household bleach and dry your tools thoroughly before putting them away.

References: NT Government/Agriculture, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Department of Agriculture and of course our FST team

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