Blueberry rust is a plant disease caused by the fungus Thekopsora minima, which affects a range of plants in the Ericaceae family, including blueberries, cranberries and rhododendrons.
The disease has been reported in Europe, Argentina, Asia, Mexico, Canada and the United States of America. In Australia, it has been present in parts of New South Wales and Queensland for many years.
The disease is found mainly on the leaves of infected plants. It produces millions of spores which are very easily and quickly transported on the wind, but can also be spread via infected plants and fruit, packaging, transport vehicles, equipment, clothing and hands.
Blueberry rust symptoms on blueberry leaves
Detection of blueberry rust in Victoria
A detection of blueberry rust was made in the Melbourne metropolitan area in September 2014. This is the first instance of this disease occurring in Victoria.
The detection of blueberry rust in Victoria was caused by a breach in Victoria's quarantine entry conditions. The Victorian eradication program is now complete, although interstate negotiations for gaining recognition of state blueberry rust freedom are ongoing.
Please note that market access conditions are subject to change.
For the latest advice on conditions for exporting, importing or moving blueberry rust host materials within Victoria, see industry notices.
Exporting from Victoria
As a result of the Victorian detection, The Western Australian
Find out the current import requirements for Western Australia.
Importing into Victoria
Restrictions apply for the importation of blueberry rust host material from New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
To prevent the entry of blueberry rust into Victoria from these states, a legislative Order places restrictions and conditions on the importation of materials which may carry the disease into Victoria. The Order is available on the Victoria Government Gazette website.
These blueberry rust host materials include:
- plants – Vaccinium spp. (including blueberry, cranberry and huckleberry), Gaylussacia, Tsuga (hemlock), Rhododendron (including azalea), Lyonia, Menziesia, Pernettya, Hugeria, Pieris, Leucothoe, Oxycoccus; and
- any agricultural equipment or packaging used in the farming or subsequent processing of these plants.
Note: Businesses intending to import Vaccinium spp. planting material must apply to DEDJTR for a permit. Other ornamental blueberry rust host planting material does not require a permit, although the planting material must be certified by an inspector from the exporting state's department of agriculture.
Movement within Victoria
Businesses are reminded that it is illegal to sell blueberry plants with blueberry rust symptoms within Victoria. Any suspected infections must be reported to DEDJTR immediately.
Any host fruit grown and packed in New Zealand can be consigned directly into Victoria without restriction.
However, conditions may apply if New Zealand host fruit is re-consigned to Victoria from another state.
Transporting blueberry rust host materials
Businesses that transport blueberry rust host material into Victoria can help to avoid the introduction of the disease by using good hygiene practices and complying with Victorian import conditions.
For more information on market access:
- phone 136 186 and ask for your local Plant Standards Officer or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
Management of blueberry rust (including chemical control)
If you suspect you have found symptoms of blueberry rust:
- phone the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline (toll-free) on 1800 084 881 or
- email email@example.com (and attach photos if possible).