WA POTATOES reportBiosecurityFOCUSCEO Simon Moltoni says thanks to proactive moves by industry, the PSTVd outbreak has not had the feared repercussions.

BIOSECURITY continues to be one of our industry’s biggest threats. Recent incursions of new virus strains, along with outbreaks of existing diseases, has put at risk access to both interstate and international markets.PSTVd has now been found in our southern growing regions. We can no longer claim area freedom outside of the Carnarvon region. This led to several vegetable properties in the metropolitan region being subject to Pest Control Notices. As the size of the outbreak has become apparent, it has been acknowledged that eradication is not an option. Pest Control Notices have been lifted.Fortunately, industry has been proactive by investing in the PSTVd surveillance program over the past decade. This foresight has meant market access has been relatively uninterrupted as evidence of crop health has been readily available. This judicious use of our growers’ Fee For Service funds has helped avoid potential disaster for both individual business and the industry more broadly. The close working relationship between industry, government and national organisations has helped achieve results without any potato properties being subject to a Pest Control Notice (quarantine).A new strain of PVY has been detected in potato crops in the South West. Unfortunately, it is the PVY ntn strain, which is a more significant threat. This strain was also found in Tasmania during the summer. This disease poses significant production problems as it can be spread readily by aphids, similar to the leafroll virus. The seed industry on the east coast has been struggling to manage ntn for years. It is manageable within the seed scheme, however can spread quickly (one generation) if it slips through the net.The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 is sounding alarm bells for all landowners throughout Western Australia. The Potato Growers Association encourages members to attend the meetings in their area and take advantage of all online resources on this subject. This is not a proposal. The bill went before parliament two years ago. We engaged with the WA Farmers Federation and the then leader of the opposition, Mia Davies, in order to lobby our interests. Unfortunately, the composition of the WA parliament means that the democratic process in our state is heavily compromised. Given that each area will have local groups assessing applications, we believe that inconsistency may be a problem in administering this legislation, potentially leading to disputes and delays. Unfortunately, we will have to wait and see how this process will work.“ A new strain of PVY has been detected in potato crops in the South West. Unfortunately, it is the PVY ntn strain, which is a more significant threat. The strain was also found in Tasmania... Georgia and I recently attended Hort Connections 2023 in Adelaide. It was good to see WA potato growers take the opportunity to attend and see what new trends and technologies are available or are on the horizon. Around 1000 growers formed part of the 3500 delegates. For Georgia and I, it was quite hectic with meetings and field days, etc, which were very beneficial. A big thank you to the team at PotatoLink for their contribution to such a successful event.We will be arranging grower meetings in the regions during August with AUSVEG biosecurity manager Shakira Johnson. Please keep an eye on your inbox for dates and venues.