Blueberry rust in Tasmania
Blueberry rust is no longer classed as a List A disease or covered by a containment plan in Tasmania.
Biosecurity Tasmania initiated a technical review of the containment approach for blueberry rust (BBR) in Tasmania. The review considered the current situation, the containment plan, the biology of the rust, the situation on the mainland, the regulatory impacts on the businesses of infected premises, and market access developments. The review looked at the current BBR containment plan and its appropriateness given the changes in blueberry rust spread in Tasmania.
The rapid increase in positive detections across the 2021/2022 season are indicative containment is no longer effective. Previously regulated markets in Western Australia and Victoria are now de-regulated enabling blueberries to be exported to those States from Tasmania without restrictions. South Australia has advised it will no longer accept untreated blueberries from Tasmania under the previous Pest Free Places of Production arrangements that were underpinned by the containment approach. Thus, there are no trade advantages remaining for the containment plan, and the regulatory burden exceeds the benefits available.
Blueberry Rust Industry Support Package
Biosecurity Tasmania will continue to provide support for blueberry growers for a 12-month period to assist the industry to work towards self-management of the disease. This program will be active from September 2022 to September 2023.
Free diagnostics for suspect BBR
Biosecurity Tasmania will provide free diagnostics to growers who suspect BBR on their plants. If positive results are returned, growers will be encouraged to seek agronomic advice on how to manage blueberry rust on their property.
To utilise this service in the first instance, contact PlantDiagnosticServices@nre.tas.gov.au
for information on what to provide. As a first step, photos will be requested, followed by the submission of samples to New Town Research Laboratories if required.
There will be no requirement to provide BT with the location of any positive samples and strict confidentiality around the whereabouts of affected orchards will remain in place as part of normal client/laboratory confidentiality arrangements.
The cost to diagnose a leaf disease by microscopic examination would normally incur a fee of $106.00 in accordance with Plant Diagnostic Services’ fees and charges.
Provision of advice for accessing South Australian Market
The Biosecurity Tasmania Market Access team will manage registrations of businesses wishing to access the South Australian markets as a complementary service for the 22/23 season. A registered business will receive a Trade Agreement document which steps out the requirements the business must meet in order to trade into SA. Future seasons will see both registration management and auditing against the agreement will be a fee for service task.
Further information about this program can be obtained by contacting the Market Access team
Blueberry Rust Review Technical Review (PDF 478Kb)
What is blueberry rust?
Blueberry rust (Thekopsora minima) is a serious disease of blueberries that causes extensive defoliation and may cause plant death on plants with severe infections.
Blueberry rust is a fungal pathogen.
What to look for
- Initial small yellow, chlorotic leaf spots on upper surface of young leaves
- Lesions turn rust/brown coloured and enlarge as the infection progresses (Fig 1.)
- Yellow-orange powdery pustules develop on the underside of leaves (Fig 2.)
- Similar pustules may also appear on blueberry fruit (Fig 3.)
- Premature leaf drop and defoliation
(Click to enlarge images)
When do symptoms first appear?
In the field, the symptoms appear on leaves by mid-season at any growth stage of plants and on fruits by late season.
How does blueberry rust spread?
The disease spreads by airborne spores mainly via wind, spores can also be carried by people, on clothing for example, when walking past and contacting plants.
Ways you can protect your crops
Adopt a range of farm biosecurity measures that will assist in protecting your property from the entry and spread of pests and diseases. Farm biosecurity is a shared responsibility, and that of every person visiting or working on your property.
- Ensure you and your staff are aware of plant diseases, and are familiar with symptoms
- Disease identification information should be on-site and be easily accessible to all staff and visitors
- Limit the access of people (visitors and staff) onto your property
- Disinfect all equipment/vehicles that move off-site and return to operate on the property
- Implement a hygiene protocol for essential visitors (contractors, suppliers, etc)
- Restrict all non-business vehicles from entry onto the property
- Minimise or allocate specific staff who might come in contact with host material
- Source plant material from known professional growers with good accreditation
- Inspect imported blueberry host material prior to introduction to your property
For detailed information, together with a range of farm biosecurity resources that will assist in protecting your property – and livelihood – visit the
Farm Biosecurity Program website (this Program is a joint initiative of Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA)).
There are no specific import requirements for blueberry rust host produce for the New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australian and Victorian markets. South Australia requires suppliers to meet requirements of a Trade Agreement.
For further information on market access to South Australia, contact (03) 6777 2160.