LIHU’E, Hawaii (AP) — The state Board of Agriculture will decide Thursday
whether to impose a quarantine on the movement of banana plants on Kaua’i to
help eliminate the bunchy top virus.
But state officials say that what
really needs to be done is to destroy at least half of the seven million banana
plants in commercial crops and residential yards.
By eliminating the
infected plants, the Agriculture Department hopes to cut the spread of the
virus, a disease that is carried from sick plants to healthy plants by a tiny
The disease was discovered in April by commercial banana growers
near Kapa’a, where Kaua’i’s largest banana farms are located.
Nakahara, manager of the plant pest control branch, said an islandwide survey
showed the virus is present on more than half the island — from Haena, on the
north shore, to Koloa, on the south shore — a much larger area than originally
Ideally, Nakahara said, the department would kill all the banana
plants on the east half of the island by injecting a herbicide, the only way to
guarantee the entire plant is killed.
But that would cost $5 million, and
no eradication funds have been appropriated for the new fiscal year that begins
on July 1, Nakahara said.
Two years ago, 25,000 banana plants in Kauai’s
Kilauea area were destroyed, and it was believed the disease had been