Be on guard, fruit growers told

Ernie Steiner was encouraged by the attitude of growers towards the problem.
Ernie Steiner was encouraged by the attitude of growers towards the problem.

Home fruit growers gathered at Roleystone Family Centre last week to hear Mr Steiner explain how they could help fight the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) infestation threatening Perth Hills orchards.

The State Government declared the Gosnells, Armadale, Serpentine Jarrahdale, Swan, Mundaring and Kalamunda council areas as Medfly-infested last October.

Since then, commercial growers across these areas have reported crop losses of up to 100 per cent to the pest.

Several growers told the Comment News they were considering leaving the industry.

The infestation followed a federal authority’s decision to reduce how much of a pesticide commercial growers could use, and ban home growers from it altogether.

The authority is still considering evidence over whether the pesticide poses health risks.

The alternative system, area-wide management, relies on home growers being as vigilant as professionals in managing the pest.

Mr Steiner said it was vital residents maintained their guard during the winter citrus season.

‘It is their responsibility, and if they find it too difficult they should get out the chainsaw and remove the tree,’ he said.

He said he was encouraged by home growers’ attitudes at the meeting. ‘There was genuine interest, and a sense of wanting to do the right thing,’ he said.

Residents can read more about area-wide management techniques outlined here at www.agric.wa.gov.au (under F), or call 1800 084 881.

They can make the materials at home or buy them from hardware stores and nurseries.