Cucurbitaceous vegetable seeds

We have completed a review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous vegetable seeds for sowing.

When we conduct a review of import conditions, we:

  • review the science on pests of concern
  • assess and analyse biosecurity risks
  • develop risk management measures, if required
  • consult the public on the draft report and then review comments
  • publish the final report
  • publish import conditions in our Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).

About the review

Australia depends heavily on imported seeds to produce a wide range of crops, including vegetables, and imports large quantities of these seeds annually.

The distribution of pathogens (that cause disease) associated with seed is expanding across the world and new biosecurity risks continue to emerge. The trade in vegetable seeds has become globalised with seed being commercially developed, multiplied and processed across various countries instead of within a single country. Therefore, the risk of seeds being exposed to new pathogens, as well as the risk that these pathogens may enter Australia via imported seeds, has increased.

The increased biosecurity risk associated with imported seed prompted us to review the import conditions for vegetable seeds for sowing.

We initiated a review of four vegetable seed import policies, which was funded under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. The four vegetable families being reviewed are: Apiaceae (e.g. carrot, celery and parsnip), Brassicaceae (e.g. broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower), Cucurbitaceae (e.g. cucumber, watermelon and zucchini) and Solanaceae (e.g. capsicum, eggplant and tomato).

The review of cucurbitaceous vegetable seeds is the second of the four vegetable families to be finalised. The review of brassicaceous vegetable seeds was finalised in September 2019.

Final report

Summary of the final report

Seeds of nine cucurbitaceous vegetable species are hosts of pathogens that are of biosecurity concern for Australia. Four pest risk management options are recommended to manage the risk:

  • Option 1. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test—an option that is applicable to all eight identified quarantine pests. This test is used to determine the presence of the pathogen in the seed.
  • Option 2. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test—an option that is applicable to CGMMV, KGMMV, MNSV and ZGMMV. This test is used to determine the presence of the pathogen in the seed.
  • Option 3. Broad spectrum fungicidal treatment—an option that is applicable to D. cucurbitae.
  • Option 4. Heat treatment—an option that is applicable to MNSV.

Below is a summary of the pathogens and the options for risk management measures for each of the nine cucurbitaceous host species:

Host species (including its hybrids) Pathogens associated with host species Risk management measures
Option 1
(PCR test)
Option 2
(ELISA test)
Option 3
(Fungicide treatment)
Option 4
(Heat treatment)
Citrullus lanatus (watermelon) Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV)    
Kyuri green mottle mosaic virus (KGMMV)    
Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV)  
Zucchini green mottle mosaic virus (ZGMMV)    
Cucumis melo (melon) CGMMV    
MNSV  
Diaporthe cucurbitae    
Cucumis sativus (cucumber) CGMMV    
KGMMV    
Tomato black ring virus (TBRV)      
Diaporthe cucurbitae    
Cucurbita maxima (squash) CGMMV    
Cucurbita moschata (pumpkin) CGMMV    
Cucurbita pepo (zucchini) Cucumber fruit mottle mosaic virus (CFMMV)      
CGMMV    
KGMMV    
ZGMMV    
Lagenaria siceraria (bottle gourd) CGMMV    
Momordica charantia (bitter gourd) Bitter gourd yellow mosaic virus (BgYMV)      
Trichosanthes cucumerina (snake gourd) CGMMV    

Seeds of these nine cucurbitaceous vegetable species that are imported for sprouting or micro-greens production for human consumption are exempt from these additional measures if they are imported directly for germination at a production facility operated under an Approved Arrangement. This is to mitigate risks from the diversion of seeds to other end-uses.

If the required treatment or testing is undertaken off-shore, phytosanitary certification is required with the additional declaration that the testing or treatment has been conducted in accordance with Australia’s requirements.

Seeds of most cucurbitaceous vegetable species reviewed were not found to be hosts of quarantine pests for Australia and they will continue to be subject only to the department’s standard seeds for sowing import conditions.

Your feedback on the draft report

Appendix B of the final report provides a summary of key technical comments raised by stakeholders and how they were considered.

Appendix C of the final report provides details of how we considered the potential alternative management options to minimise impacts on the organic seeds sector and non-organic producers.

Changes were made to the risk analysis following comments submitted by stakeholders and a review of scientific literature. Key changes are:

  • the inclusion of three additional quarantine pests (BgYMV, CFMMV and TBRV), and
  • the inclusion of other pest risk management options (PCR testing for all eight quarantine pests and heat treatment for MNSV) that are suitable for both organic and non-organic seeds sectors.

Download submissions on the draft report

Available until June 2021.

Document Pages File size
Australian Seed Federation PDF 4 561 KB
Nature’s Haven PDF 1 430 KB
Plantum PDF 3 742 KB
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries PDF 4 5.09 MB
Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development PDF 17 462 KB

Published submissions may not meet Australian Government accessibility requirements as they have not been prepared by us. If you have difficulty accessing these files, contact us for help.

Download final report

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, June 2020.

Document Pages File size
Final review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous vegetable seeds for sowing PDF 254 1.75 MB
Final review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous vegetable seeds for sowing DOCX 254 1.77 MB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for help.

Draft report

We released the draft report of the review of cucurbitaceous vegetable seeds for sowing into Australia on 6 December 2017 for an extended 75 calendar day stakeholder consultation period (due to the Christmas/New Year holiday period), closing on 19 February 2018.

Download draft report

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, December 2017.

Available until June 2021.

Document Pages File size
Draft review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia PDF 209 3.66 MB
Draft review of import conditions for cucurbitaceous crop seeds for sowing into Australia DOCX 209 3.90 MB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for help.

Trade

Cucurbitaceous vegetable industry

Australian producers rely on the overseas supply of seeds for cucurbitaceous vegetable production. In 2018-19, Australia’s production of main cucurbitaceous vegetables (cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin and muskmelon (rockmelon, honeydew melon and Piel de Sapo) was valued at $536 million.

The gross value of production figures for cucurbitaceous vegetables for 2018-19 are:

  • Cucumber—$180.3 million
  • Watermelon—$106.9 million
  • Zucchini—$92.3 million
  • Pumpkin—$82 million
  • Muskmelon—$74.5 million.

The gross value of Australian horticultural agriculture was $14.4 billion in 2018-19.

The gross value of Australian horticultural exports was just over $2.6 billion.

Source: Horticulture Innovation Australia—Australia Horticulture Statistics Handbook (2018-19)

Next steps

We will implement the revised import conditions in the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) in a phased approach.

Phase 1, which will be implemented on 12 June 2020, will include fungicide treatment for D. cucurbitae for the associated host seed, and the continuation of ELISA testing for the four viruses CGMMV, KGMMV, MNSV and ZGMMV for the associated host seeds.

Implementation of PCR testing for all eight pathogens will be phased in at a later date once PCR testing has been validated. Stakeholders will be informed before these changes are made.

Based on industry feedback, we have not added heat treatment as an option in BICON. If industry would like the option of heat treatment for MNSV to be available on BICON, please contact us at imports.

Keep informed

Register as a stakeholder

Subscribe to the plant stakeholder register to receive notices about plant biosecurity policies.

Subscribe to BICON to receive alerts when this case is published.

Contact us

For more information, email imports or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1).

Last reviewed: 9 June 2020
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