Panama disease tropical race 4: information and resources for banana growers

Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) is a serious disease of banana plants that has been found on farms in Far North Queensland. We have developed a number of resources to help you protect your farm from Panama TR4.

Understanding Panama TR4

Panama TR4 is a soilborne fungal disease that enters through the roots and starves the plant of water and nutrients, causing the plant to wilt and die.

Panama TR4 can infect most banana varieties including:

  • Cavendish
  • Lady Finger
  • Ducasse.

The disease is among the greatest threats to worldwide banana production. In some countries, the impact on industries and livelihoods has been devastating. We need to manage the disease in Far North Queensland or the same impact may occur.

The disease can't be eradicated and can survive undetected in the soil for decades. We can't identify Panama TR4 until banana plants show external signs of infection.

You can easily spread the disease if you move:

  • infected banana plants and planting material
  • contaminated soil and water.

People and machinery movement are the biggest risk to spreading the disease, but it can also be spread by:

  • vehicles
  • equipment
  • animals
  • heavy rainfall
  • floods.

Read a full description and more details about Panama TR4.

Find more information on preparing for Panama TR4.

Panama TR4 grower kit

The Panama TR4 grower kit brings together the latest information about the disease, on-farm biosecurity practices and support services, specifically for Far North Queensland banana growers. You may have received a grower kit in the mail, if you have a farm in Far North Queensland.

The kit includes:

  • information about the disease
  • best management practices for on-farm biosecurity
  • biosecurity checklist
  • information about checking plants for the disease
  • visitor register template
  • farm gate signage template
  • decontamination guide
  • wash-down designs
  • information for banana farm workers and contractors
  • legal obligations
  • diagnostic testing for Panama disease
  • managing feral pigs
  • frequently asked questions
  • support services and handy contacts.

Protecting your farm

Good on-farm biosecurity measures are critical to protect farms from Panama TR4 and to contain the disease if it is detected. You must ensure you manage the movement of soil, water and plant material entering and exiting a farm.

Equipment and items that have come into contact with infected planting material or contaminated soil may spread the disease, such as:

  • vehicles
  • machinery
  • tools
  • clothing boots.

On-farm biosecurity measures include:

  • zoning—a simple and cost-effective way to manage disease risk pathways onto and off a farm
  • footwear exchange stations and foot baths
  • cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles and machinery
  • setting up a clean access road.

Use these resources to help implement an effective farm biosecurity plan.

Information posters

Put these information posters in your tea room or other strategic places to remind you and your staff how to prevent the spread of Panama TR4.

Contact us for A1 size (841mm x 594mm) versions on (07) 4091 8140 or email

Financial assistance

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) offers sustainability loans to eligible producers under the Queensland Government Primary Industry Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES). These loans can be used to invest in control measures to protect farms from biosecurity risks.

Read more about sustainability loans for primary producers.

Support services

Living with Panama TR4 can be stressful. If you or someone you know needs support, there are community support services available in Far North Queensland. Find contact details for these services in the support for you and your family factsheet.

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