Quarantine requirements for importing apple/pear budwood

Post entry quarantine in Australia

There is currently an ongoing Australian Government initiative to provide a centralised, online communications platform to enable robust public engagement with various government agencies.

In line with this, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has transitioned all web content regarding the future post entry quarantine facility to The Post Entry Quarantine GovSpace site. Any future content, including updates, will be posted to this new platform.

Pome fruit budwood (variety & rootstock) importation process

Pome fruit budwood is classified as high security due to the risk of the introduction of fire blight and other exotic pests and diseases. This material can only enter the country through one of the four post entry quarantine (PEQ) stations listed below. A review of the pome fruit budwood protocols was completed in February 2002. Changes in the importation protocols following the review resulted in a reduction of the post entry quarantine time from four years to 15 months.

A permit is required for importation to proceed. Permits can be obtained using the electronic application process and the completed permit can be lodged online or through one of the stations listed below.

From a logistics point of view it is important to contact the station that will be used to ensure they know when the material will arrive and they have the space in the station to accommodate it. It’s also important to maintain contact with the PEQ station following importation to kept abreast of progress through the testing and to plan for the release of the material.

It is possible to have the virus indexing to meet the APFIP certification requirements completed whilst new introductions are in the PEQ system. This is a separate issue to quarantine indexing and needs to be arranged directly with the station manager.

Please note: Importers need to manage the new material once released in accordance with the certification system to ensure that they are not infected by uncertified material.

Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) Stations

Eastern Creek PEQ Station
60 Wallgrove Road Easter Creek NSW 2766
Ph (02) 8805 1071

Knoxfield Quarantine Station (This station does not specialise in Pome Fruit Introductions)
621 Burwood Highway Knoxfield Victoria 3176
Ph (03) 9756 0407

DPIWE Kingston Plant Quarantine Station
Kingston Tasmania
Ph (02) 6233 3352

DAFF Quarantine Station Western Australia
3 Baron Hay Court South Perth WA 6151
Ph (08) 9368 3460

Heat treatment

APFIP has been using the heat treatment process for over five years to eliminate viruses of economic concern from fruit tree propagating material to add value to the Australian pome fruit industry.

What is it?

Heat treatment of pome fruit planting material has been somewhat of a mythical subject in Australia with a low understanding of what it means, how it is carried out and what its benefits are. In most industry circles the urban myth has been “that heat treatment makes red apples green”. The practical reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

Heat treatment has been standard procedure for virus elimination in Europe and North America for the past 30 years – it was adopted to eliminate the viruses of economic significance. Research in this area showed that there were significant improvements to orchard yields if trees were not infected. The certification systems that were setup to assure the virus status of planting material are still in operation and widely supported.

Like all specialised operations there needs to be careful control of the process to ensure mistakes are not made. There is now a large volume of evidence that shows that no detrimental pomological changes occur to the heat treated rootstocks and varieties.

The process

Heat treatment is a fairly straightforward process – the infected rootstock or variety is propagated onto a vigorous rootstock (usually seedling) and growth is established in a hot house.

The tree is then introduced into a growth cabinet where temperature and light are controlled. After a period of acclimatisation the temperature is increased so it averages 37°C for a minimum of 70 consecutive days with light for approximately 16 hours per day.

In this environment the ability of the viruses to develop is hindered to the point they are unable to spread to the growing tips on the tree. The result is the growing tips are potentially uninfected by the viruses. A number of tips are removed and shoot tip grafted onto virus-tested rootstocks (usually seedlings) and grown in a hot house.

Once established these new trees are tested to see if the viruses have been removed. Several trees of each variety or rootstock are heat treated to ensure there are plenty of tips to test as some may still be infected. From there the trees are planted in the field and encourage to crop to check trueness to type.

Heat Treatment Flow Chart

The entire process takes approximately 18 months.

Pathogens are tested for:

  • Apple mosaic virus (APMV)
  • Apple chlorotic leaf spot virus (ACLSV)
  • Apple stem grooving virus (ASGV)
  • Apple stem pitting virus (ASPV)
  • Apple rubbery woor MLO

The Nursery Tree Specifications & Tree Types Description is a guide to assist growers when purchasing nursery trees. The most common tree types have been described and as there are other ways of producing nursery trees, this publication should be used as a guide only.