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For Immediate Release: January 28, 2003


HONOLULU— The serious banana disease, Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) has been discovered on Maui. The disease was discovered in the Pukalani area in December and personnel from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture have been surveying the island to determine the extent of the spread of the disease. Surveys of the Hana, Kihei, Wailea, Waiehu, Lahaina, Kula, Haiku, Wailuku, and the Kahului areas did not detect BBTV and the disease is believed to be confined to the Pukalani area.

Until further notice, residents in the Pukalani area are being asked to voluntarily stop the movement of banana plants and plant parts, except fruits to other Maui districts to prevent further spread of BBTV. Until further notice, the movement of banana plants and parts from Maui to other islands is also prohibited.

"The department will continue to survey the area and destroy infected banana plants," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, chairperson for HDOA. "We ask that Maui residents with banana plants take a closer look at their plants and contact the department if they detect any signs of the disease."

BBTV infected plants exhibit severely stunted growth in the plant crown, resulting in a bunchy appearance. Younger leaves are stunted with yellowish leaf edges and may curl upward. Lower leaf stems and midribs exhibit dark, parallel "streaks" which may form a continuous line, or appear as intermittent blotches. Streaks may also be viewed in the leaf veins forming a "morse code" pattern which is best viewed by looking from the undersides of the leaves toward the sky. Infected plants produce deformed and stunted fruits. In advanced stages, banana plants do not produce any fruits.

BBTV is spread by the banana aphid and, more commonly, by people moving and planting infected young plants.

Maui residents who suspect they have banana plants that are infected are asked to call HDOA's Plant Pest Control Branch on Maui at 873-3555 or the Honolulu office at 973-9538.

For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560
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