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September 21, 2000

Highway Signs Installed to Remind Public Not to Transport Banana Plants Around Kauai

Kauai - Four new highway signs have been installed at two locations on Kauai reminding the public that transporting banana plants around the island is prohibited. The four-foot by eight-foot signs are located on Kuhio Highway, north of Hanamaulu and on Kaumualii Highway, west of Kipu Road. Two signs are located at each site, one facing each direction. The signs were produced and installed by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) earlier this month as a joint project with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA.)

The island of Kauai has been under an interim quarantine since July 3, 2000 to prevent the spread of the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV.) Not only are banana plants and banana plant parts prohibited from transport off Kauai, but it is also illegal to move them around the island. Only the banana fruit may be moved because it does not spread the virus. Violation of the rule may result in fines of not less than $100 and not more than $10,000 per violation.

HDOA's Plant Pest Control Branch has been working with Kauai's commercial banana growers to develop a BBTV management plan since the virus was discovered in several areas on Kauai in April and May of this year. HDOA has published a Pest Alert flyer to inform Kauai residents about how to spot the disease and what to do if they suspect BBTV infestation.

Symptoms of BBTV include young leaves that are stunted, resulting in a bunchy appearance. Leaf edges are yellowish and may curl upward. Lower leaf stems and midribs may exhibit streaks which are darker in color. As the disease progresses, streaking can be found on plant leaves. Infected banana plants produce small, deformed fruits; and in advanced stages, banana plants do not produce any fruit. Banana plants may also carry the virus without showing obvious signs of infection. There are no chemicals that can prevent or cure BBTV.

If residents on Kauai suspect their plants have the disease or would like a copy of the Pest Alert, call HDOA's Kauai office at 274-3069 or the HDOA's Plant Pest Control Branch on Oahu toll free at 274-3141 ext. 39538 or 39522.