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Quarantine delays hurting Australian tomato growers

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Staff Writer | August 11, 2017
Tomato producers in Carnarvon, Western Australia, say they are struggling to make a profit after the discovery of tomato potato psyllid near Perth affected the supply of seedlings to the region.
Australian tomato
Australia   A quarantine zone was put in place
A quarantine zone was put in place following the discovery in Perth in February, preventing seedlings of crops such as tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants being transported out of Perth for two weeks.

For about one third of the tomato growers in Carnarvon, such as Duc Nguyen, the hold-up delayed planting by nearly a month.

Nguyen said the delay meant the market window for growers tightened, and instead of crops being spread out, they came into production all at once, flooding the market and seriously affecting prices.

Nguyen said if the seedling stock had arrived as expected, growers could have spread their season out and received prices of about $5 or $6 per box.

Although the psyllid had not been detected in Carnarvon, Nguyen said growers were feeling the effect of what could have been.

Trade restrictions imposed on Western Australian produce prevented interstate trade on a number of crops including tomatoes, eggplants, corn and strawberries.

Those restrictions then made it difficult for Carnarvon growers to take advantage of the void in the Australian market cause by Cyclone Debbie in Queensland.

Nguyen believed capsicum and eggplant growers were also facing similar market gluts because they were unable to send pr