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Ongoing project

Citrus industry biosecurity preparedness strategy (CT20006)

Key research provider: Plant Health Australia

What’s it all about?

This investment is delivering improved biosecurity and surveillance outcomes for the Australian citrus industry. It builds on earlier levy-funded project Improving biosecurity preparedness of the Australian citrus industry (CT17001).

The project acknowledges that the citrus industry faces a number of significant exotic pest threats that have the potential to affect production as well as market access. These include Huanglongbing and its psyllid vectors, citrus canker and citrus variegated chlorosis (Xylella). Its work is bolstering biosecurity capacity and technical capability for the Australian citrus industry, and includes a range of preparedness, response and awareness activities.

Importantly, the project involves a nationally coordinated surveillance program for early detection of high-priority pests. It will also be able to provide the industry data to support industry market access and trade.

This project employs a National Citrus Biosecurity Manager who is responsible for working with growers, researchers, industry bodies and the Australian and state government agencies to coordinate citrus surveillance and biosecurity activities across the country. A key element of the coordinator’s work will also be ensuring that growers, consultants, other industry participants and members of the public are more aware of biosecurity and exotic pests of citrus.

A review of the current Citrus Biosecurity Plan (which was developed in 2015) will also occur under this project. The review will assess and confirm high priority pests of the citrus industry and therefore which exotic pests should be the target of biosecurity preparedness, surveillance and diagnostic activities.

This project is delivering activities that will improve the industry’s biosecurity preparedness and ability to survey for exotic pests through the development of a nationally coordinated biosecurity and surveillance program, delivered under the ‘CitrusWatch’.

Between August 2022 and January 2023 this project has:

  • Reviewed the Threat Summary Tables and is finalising the development of a Biosecurity Implementation Plan, for endorsement early in 2023.

  • Developed communication material to support surveillance and biosecurity awareness including:
    • Monthly e-newsletters sent to Asian citrus trapping participants during the Spring surveillance run
    • Publication of an Annual Activity Report and one page summary to inform the industry of the achievements and outcomes of the CitrusWatch program and help promote the program to stakeholders.
    • Development of an online training course to assist with surveillance and diagnostics of citrus psyllids. This course is expected to be launched in early 2023.
    • Articles about the CitrusWatch program and citrus biosecurity were developed for Australian Citrus News.
    • As part of Citrus Australia’s Full Bottle podcast series an episode called ‘who’s watching your citrus’ was recorded. The episode focuses on the CitrusWatch program and citrus biosecurity related topics and has had 164 listens since it was published in late September 2023.

  • Continued to develop Pathway Risk Assessment models to help identify high risk areas to help effectively target surveillance activities.

  • Completed Spring sticky trapping for exotic psyllid and glassy winged sharpshooter with 434 traps deployed in southern Australia and 147 traps deployed in northern Australia over the Spring 2022 trapping period.

  • Completed targeted surveillance activities in 3 urban and 1 commercial citrus production areas including:
    • Two commercial orchards in the Darwin region
    • Community gardens in the Darwin region (3 community gardens)
    • Urban and peri-urban areas of the greater Sydney (15 sites across the Darling Harbour, Port Botany and Hawkesbury regions including community gardens and small citrus orchards)
    • Burnley public gardens in Melbourne.

  • Plant Health Australia supported the development, review and refinement of a National Surveillance Protocols (NSP) for Citrus Canker. Drafting has also commenced on a NSP for Asian citrus psyllid. Final, endorsed versions of NSP will be published on the Plant Surveillance Network Australasia Pacific website.

This project is delivering activities that will improve the industry’s biosecurity preparedness and ability to survey for exotic pests through the development of a nationally coordinated biosecurity and surveillance program, which will be undertaken under the ‘CitrusWatch’ banner.

Key recruitment decisions have been made with Dr Jessica Lye appointed as the Surveillance Coordinator (as the National Citrus Biosecurity Manager based at Citrus Australia). In addition, recruitment has been completed in the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade and a Community Engagement Officer (Ms Andrea Sinclair) has been appointed to undertake activities focused at Northern Australia.

Between July 2021 and January 2022, the Project Team have also:

  • Established a Project Steering Group to guide the project's activities
  • Commenced the Citrus Biosecurity Plan review
  • Conducted spring sticky trapping for exotic psyllid and glassy-winged sharpshooter with over 650 traps deployed in spring 2021
  • Developed a targeted surveillance protocol
  • Trialled the protocol through targeted surveillance in two urban areas (Melbourne and Darwin) as well as one commercial orchard in the Yarra Valley. Additional surveillance is planned for the coming months.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Citrus Fund.