Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh has urged landholders to continue efforts to maintain their backyard fruit trees and properly dispose of unwanted fruit, despite a slowdown of fruit fly activity with the recent cooler weather.
Mr Walsh said while Department of Primary Industries' (DPI) on-ground operations were being scaled down for winter, planning was already underway to ensure an aggressive response later this year.
"This coming spring more inspectors will be hired by DPI to supplement the almost 100 full and part time staff working on the ground," Mr Walsh said.
"DPI is planning to target resources at all the outbreak locations in our northern fruit-growing regions.
"Most commercial growers and residents can expect baiting and larval search activities to resume in early spring – possibly earlier if they are based in the northwest.
"In the meantime over winter, residents should prune their trees to a size that they can readily manage while picking and using the fruit or removing unwanted trees.
"If backyard fruit is not wanted for household consumption, residents should also consider replacing them with ornamental trees which will reduce the risk of future fruit fly outbreaks."
Mr Walsh said during summer and autumn this year, DPI staff visited thousands of properties in affected areas as part of its fruit fly eradication program and more than 60,000 baits were laid to help reduce fly populations.
"Most of these outbreaks could affect next season, so commercial growers need to maintain their accreditation and talk to DPI experts if they have early crops.
"This will help DPI manage workloads going into next season. Growers also need to check if they are in a suspension zone and obtain the appropriate accreditations and permits to move fruit," Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh reminded travellers not to carry fruit into or through regional Victoria, particularly backyard-grown fruit, as it could carry fruit fly, jeopardising millions of dollars worth of local and international trade.
"Travellers should play it safe—buy and consume fruit locally," Mr Walsh said.