Quarantine sought for bananas on Kaua’i

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

aphid.

The disease was discovered in April by commercial banana growers

near Kapa’a, where Kaua’i’s largest banana farms are located.

Larry

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

thought.

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

eliminated.

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