Pest & Disease Management

Pest and Disease Management – Biosecurity For Pistachios

Biosecurity planning provides a mechanism for the nut industry, government and other relevant stakeholders to actively determine pests of highest priority, analyse the risks they pose, put in place procedures to reduce the chance of pests becoming established, rapidly detect any incursion and/or minimise the impact if a pest incursion occurs.

Pistachio Growers’ Association Inc is strongly committed to ensuring the Pistachio industry effectively reduces the potential for incursions of emergency plant pests and diseases that could adversely impact on domestic trade, international trade, market access, public health, food safety, regional and national economy and the environment. The Pistachio Industry is also strongly committed to ensuring responses to any pest incursions that may occur are undertaken as rapidly and effectively as possible to minimise costs to growers, the industry, other plant industries, government parties and the wider community.

Read more here:   Nut Industry Biosecurity Plan (Version 2-1)

The Australian Pistachio Industry Biosecurity Statement can be downloaded here:  PISTACHIO INDUSTRY BIOSECURITY STATEMENT June 2014

 Pest and Disease Management – Diseases

Pistachio crops in Australia are less troubled by pests than they are overseas crops.  Diseases however can cause major headaches if allowed to develop in the orchard.


Anthracnose-infected pistachio. (Themis Michailides)

Alternaria33TRAN pistachio altenaria TB

Anthracnose: 33TRAN pistachio anthracnose TB

Blossom and Shoot Blight:  33TRAN pistachio blossom & shoot blight TB

Panicle and Shoot Blight: 33TRAN pistachio panicle & shoot blight TB

Xanthomonas: 33TRAN pistachio xanthomonas TB


Awareness that undesirable levels of aflatoxin in food and feed may have serious consequences for human and animal health is increasing. Aflatoxins, probably the most studied and widely known mycotoxins, were first noted in the early 1960s. They are among the most potent mutagenic substances known; there is extensive experimental and epidemiological evidence that they induce liver cancer (WHO, 1998). The term aflatoxin refers to a class of chemical compounds of related structure; among these aflatoxin B1 is considered to be the most potent carcinogen.

The major aflatoxin-producing fungi are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Under favourable temperature and humidity conditions these fungi grow on certain foodstuffs, most commonly groundnuts, dried fruit, tree nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts), spices and a range of cereals (especially maize). Production of aflatoxin is optimal at relatively high temperatures, so contamination is most acute and widespread in warm, climates. Although contamination is generally considered to be a problem in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America, aflatoxins have also been found in temperate countries of Europe and North America and Australia (FAO, 1979, 1982).  Tree nuts are commonly affected.

APPC has an Aflatoxin Policy – see the link at the bottom of this section.

There are however, some biocontrol measures being investigated using the atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus strain AF36 (the same product that is widely used in Arizona cotton fields to substantially reduce aflatoxin contamination of cottonseed).  AF36 was applied as a biocontrol agent in commercial pistachio orchards in California in 2008, 2009 and 2010.   For an introduction to AF36 and how is should be applied, see the University of California webpage: Biocontrol of Aflatoxins in Pistachio and Almond Crops

Biocontrol agents such as AF36 work by building in the orchard soil profile, a strain of the mould that does not produce aflatoxin (atoxigenic).  This biocontrol method works best as it accumulates in the orchard by successive applications.  The Californian experience shows that it works most effectively when applied every year on the entire orchard.  The effectiveness is further improved if neighbours are also using it on their nut crops.

Training Video from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center: How AF36 works

How to apply AF36

There is also an excellent presentation by Dr Themis J Michailides which was delivered at the 2019 Pistachio Day at The University of California, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

The Use of AF36 Biopesticide to Reduce Aflatoxins, Challenges and Prospects

Note:  This link will take you to an external page. Click the back arrow to return to

The AVPMA Australian AF36 Permit can be found here: PER90768

PDF links:

Pest Information and Management Publications: (PDF – download and print or view onscreen by clicking link)

Endemic Pests (in Australia)

Managing Pests and Predators in Pistachio:   Managing_Pests_and_Predators_in_Pistachios1

Exotic Pests (not currently in Australia)

Integrated Pest Management:   Integrated_Pest_Management1
Beneficials – Insects and Others:   Beneficial_Insects1
Native and ‘Insectary’ Plants to Promote Beneficials:   Native_Plants_and_Beneficials1