As of mid November 2013 approximately 35,000 trees have been surveyed for chestnut blight this spring. The survey is due to be completed by the end of November. DEPI have been concentrating on 1km zones around each formerly infected property and any properties which have strong linkages to infected properties. DEPI have also included chestnut tree nurseries and representative groves in the various districts.
So far, DEPI have not found any more chestnut blight so they are still on track to declare most of the Ovens Valley free of chestnut blight by mid 2014 and completely free by mid 2015. With a negative result for this survey, the likelihood of further detections is diminishing. This is outstanding news given the problems discussed regarding chestnut blight overseas on the 2013 European Study Tour.
Martin Mebalds Exotic Plant Biosecurity and Planning Coordinator, Plant Biosecurity and Product Integrity Branch , Biosecurity Victoria, DEPI is giving a talk to the Australasian Plant Pathology conference in Auckland at the end of November entitled "Eradication of Chestnut Blight in Victoria, Australia" which will present the case for eradication based on work completed by DEPI. A poster will also be presented by DEPI diagnosticians on the differences between the fungi causing eucalyptus canker and chestnut blight. These presentations will lay the groundwork for our arguments for eradication into next year.
However industry would like to emphasize;
It is of utmost importance that if chestnut blight is found or suspected by a grower it must be reported if we are to be successful in eradicating it. Ignoring or hiding suspect symptoms could start the whole eradication cycle again if allowed to remain and spread whereas prompt action may mean minimum cost, effort and impact for maximum return.
So, growers are reminded to remain vigilant for any signs of the Blight fungus; and these should be reported immediately to VicDEPI on (03) 5731 1207.