The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is urging farmers to remain vigilant in their management of the velvetleaf pest plant.
MPI’s Velvetleaf 2016 Response Manager, Carolyn Bleach, says the window of opportunity to control plants that haven’t yet seeded is narrowing and it’s very important farmers remain on the look- out.
“Farmers and landowners need to maintain a watchful eye until crops have been grazed, particularly as some late emerging plants have been found in crops that have already been inspected.
“It’s become apparent that velvetleaf shoots up dramatically when it goes to seed. A plant that may have been hidden by the canopy of the crop one week can appear a week or so later.
“We are urging farmers not to become complacent and to report any findings of late-emerging plants to the MPI exotic pest/disease hotline: 0800 80 99 66.
“All seeding plants on inspected properties have been mapped and these areas will need to be revisited for several years to eliminate this pest plant.”
Dr Bleach says farmers are continuing to receive expert advice on how best to manage velvetleaf.
“This week, farmers from affected properties received guidelines that advised them on how to graze fodder beet crops while minimising the risk of spreading velvetleaf across their properties.
“The guidelines are a collaborative effort with input from MPI, Dairy NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), AgResearch, Federated Farmers and PGG Wrightsons agronomists. Feedback was provided by industry groups.
“MPI is also developing a ‘ute guide’ of the existing Farm Management Plan to ensure the information is as user-friendly as possible for farmers. We’ll also be releasing a FAQ sheet later this week.”
Meanwhile, Dr Bleach says MPI is receiving regular updates on the number of cases of velvetleaf across the country.
“There are 169 confirmed cases in 11 regions throughout New Zealand. Canterbury has recorded the highest number to date (88). We are also focussed on completing property inspections across the various regions.”
Dr Bleach says MPI is encouraged by the support its received from a wide range of stakeholders including industry representatives, regional councils and farmers ensuring an ‘all hands to the pump’ approach is being taken.
“This is a truly collaborative response and we are heartened by the ongoing hard work that’s being put into containing this pest plant.
“The commitment shown by regional councils to help local farmers through this has been great.
“Managing this pest locally now will help to reduce its impact in the future.”