Nearly three million Northern Territory citrus fruit harvested and sold interstate

At the close of their harvest season in March 2019, a citrus farmer in Katherine, Northern Territory (NT), had sent close to three million pieces of citrus to interstate markets. The total value of the crop of eureka lemons and flame, red flesh grapefruit was just over $1 million.

With citrus canker detected in the NT, stringent movement and quarantine restrictions are in place to stop the disease spreading interstate. Commercial farmers wanting to sell their fruit outside of the established control areas must ensure farm biosecurity processes are followed including ensuring that fruit is treated with a sodium hypochlorite solution, and that inspections and audits are undertaken and certified.

During the recent harvest period, a lemon and grapefruit grower in Katherine required:

  • 26 visits to the fruit packing buildings by NT plant biosecurity officers
  • 64,170 pieces of fruit being individually checked for symptoms of citrus canker
  • 34 plant health certificates being issued.

Prior to the harvest season, this farm also underwent:

  • four separate inspections of a sample of 800 citrus trees to check for signs of citrus canker
  • an audit of the farm’s processes and its ability to meet the stringent quarantine requirements
  • certification that the property has no citrus canker (i.e. certificate of property freedom)

These checks, audits and processes were agreed by all Australian state and territory governments to protect Australia’s $798 million citrus industry from citrus canker.

The NT Government has worked with the citrus industry to help farmers access fruit markets while the movement and quarantine restrictions are in place. This has included work to get agreement from all Australian state and territory governments on the additional checks, audits and processes for sending NT citrus fruit interstate.

The NT Government is also waiving fees for the additional quarantine inspections and audits needed by commercial growers.

Plant biosecurity officers, based in Katherine and Darwin, are also working closely and collaboratively with commercial citrus growers to ensure compliance with the biosecurity measures and access to interstate markets. Nutrano general manager Joshua Clementson says he values the commitment of the NT Government in ensuring market access for his fruit.

“We’re impressed that despite the NT having a biosecurity incursion that is devastating for our citrus industry – that with careful management and shared responsibility in the Katherine region we are able to make great returns this season.”

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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