Australia is a unique country with invaluable flora and fauna.  Yet profitable agricultural production demands the import and export of crops and material.  BSES has procedures and methods to protect the Australian sugarcane industry from impacts of foreign pest or disease incursion, and to ensure that diseases present in Australia are carefully contained.

NEW – Review of the R&D Response to Sugarcane Smut with Special Reference to the SmutBuster Program.  Review undertaken by Professor Jeff Hoy, Professor Bob McIntosh, and Dr Mac Hogarth, AM, 16-20 February, 2009.



Apart from the information that appears on this page on Sugarcane Smut we have preapred a more extensive SUGARCANE SMUT INFORMATION PACK resulting from the recent outbreak in the Isis district this last weekend.  Please click here to access this information.


Chilo spp. incursion management plan

Diatraea spp. incursion management plan

Dossier on Acigona Steniellus as a pest of sugarcane

Dossier on Emmalocera depressella as a pest of sugarcane

Dossier on Tetramoera schistaceana as a pest of sugarcane

Downy mildew incursion management plan

Eldana saccharina incursion management plan

Eoreuma loftini  incursion management plan

Eumetopina flavipes incursion management plan

Generic incursion management plan

Oriental sugarcane thrips (Fulmekiola serrata) incursion management plan

Ramu stunt incursion management plan

Scirpophaga spp. Incursion management plan

Sesamia incursion management plan

Sugarcane Longhorn stemborer (Dorysthenes buqueti) incursion management plan

Sugarcane Smut – A contingency plan for the Australian sugarcane industry


Border Protection

The use of quarantine as protection against pest and disease incursion is a vital safeguard for our industry and a high priority for BSES.  BSES works closely with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) which has the primary responsibility for international quarantine.  AQIS has comprehensive border controls to screen imported goods and travellers entering Australia.

BSES staff recently led surveys of northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and a neighbouring Indonesian island to help identify risks posed by pests and diseases.  One major disease of sugarcane, smut disease, is already present in Western Australia’s Ord River sugarcane growing district, but efforts on both coasts have ensured that the disease has not found its way to the much larger east coastal production areas.

Devastating insect pests of sugarcane are found to our north in Papua New Guinea, including the top borer Sesamia and the planthopper that carries Ramu smut disease. BSES has developed incursion management plans for these pests, as well as for diseases such as smut, should they ever enter our east coast industry. BSES places great emphasis on the breeding of smut-resistant varieties with a view to long-term control of the disease.


Import of sugarcane varieties

In an effort to enhance the genetic diversity of sugarcane varieties, BSES has active variety exchange programs with other sugar producing countries.   Australia exchanges elite commercial varieties with countries including the United States, Brazil and Mauritius, and these overseas varieties are used as parents in the BSES crossing program.  However, it is absolutely vital that these foreign plants are quarantined before entering the breeding program.  Imported plants are maintained in a glasshouse facility for two years and are carefully screened for diseases during this time. BSES quarantine glasshouses are approved by AQIS and all varieties are imported under permit from AQIS. AQIS policies on import of sugarcane and associated products can be found at

No one should attempt to bring sugarcane into Australia without AQIS approval.


Fiji leaf gallleaf scald and mosaic disease are three potentially devastating diseases that are also present in Australia.  Quarantine between sugarcane districts in Australia has helped the industry restrict the spread of diseases. While Fiji disease caused massive losses in the Bundaberg district in the 1970s, it has never been found north of Proserpine, and this is because of strict internal quarantine regulations.

Queensland’s Plant Protection Act 1989 and Plant Protection Regulations 2002 provide legislative powers that control movement of sugarcane and sugarcane machinery between Queensland’s pest quarantine areas, and to control pests and diseases within pest quarantine areas.

Queensland’s pest quarantine areas (PQAs) are shown on the map below.

Regulations specific for sugarcane smut

Sugarcane smut is a notifiable pest and if a person finds sugarcane smut they must notify a Plant Protection Act Inspector within 24 hours.
Queensland has been declared a pest quarantine area for sugarcane smut.
No plant infested with smut (sugarcane and green manure crops contaminated with smut spores), soil from Ord sugarcane farms or appliance (harvesters, machinery, etc) may enter Queensland without an inspector’s approval.

Other sugarcane pests

Without an inspector’s approval, it is prohibited to plant sugarcane infested with Fiji leaf gallleaf scald, striate mosaic or ratoon stunting disease.
An inspector’s approval must be obtained to move sugarcane or sugarcane machinery between PQAs.
Plant Protection Act inspectors are appointed by the Qld Dept of Primary Industries.
BSES has Plant Protection Act inspectors in most major canegrowing areas.

Download Brochure –  Moving sugarcane machines between Pest Quarantine Areas in Queensland (2,110 KB)

Download Quarantine A1 Poster – Pest Quarantine Areas and Regulations (2,033 KB)