Horticulture

Tree offer for home gardeners

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October 24, 2017

Retired farmer Robert Hicks in his Echuca backyard, which has been cleared of unwanted fruit trees.

Goulburn Valley residents are voluntarily giving up unwanted fruit trees to assist in the fight against fruit fly.

Retired farmer Robert Hicks now lives in Echuca and has participated in a program to remove his backyard trees so they don’t became a haven for the fruit fly pest.

Contractors engaged by Campaspe Shire Council removed the tree without charge.

Mr Hicks didn’t want to maintain the trees and was having difficulty reaching fruit at the top of the tree.

‘‘They did a very thorough job. They cut them right out and removed the roots as well. You wouldn’t know they had been there,’’ Mr Hicks said.

A former Bamawm Extension dairy farmer, Mr Hicks appreciated the impact that pests can have on farm operations.

Goulburn Murray Valley regional fruit fly co-ordinator Ross Abberfield said it was important that anyone with a fruit tree growing in their garden or on their property was aware of the necessary preventative steps to reduce the spread of Queensland fruit fly.

The fruit fly become active in spring after being relatively dormant during the colder weather, with home gardeners reminded that now is the time to take action.

‘‘It is essential that people take a range of measures such as setting traps and using netting to provide a physical barrier to stop female QFF from reaching fruit and laying its eggs,’’ Mr Abberfield said.

‘‘Other key preventative actions include baiting or spraying if appropriate.’’

As well as netting, sprays and baits, residents can also remove unwanted fruit trees, harvest fruit early and prune trees to allow fruit to be easily picked.

Property owners with unwanted fruit trees in residential yards have until the end of October to apply for free removal through the Urban Fruit Tree Removal Program, which has been extended for an extra month due to high demand.

The program is an initiative of the Goulburn Murray Valley Regional Fruit Fly Action Group and is available in Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira and Strathbogie shires.

Residents can contact their shire office to participate.

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