MPI testing reveals further line of contaminated beet seed

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Telephone: 029 894 0328

As part of its ongoing response to the incursion of velvetleaf, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has detected velvetleaf contamination in a further fodder beet seed line.

Response Incident Controller, David Yard says the seed testing laboratory has found a low level of velvetleaf seed contamination in the Feldherr 16UB131 fodder beet seed line.

This seed line was also imported by the company that imported the 3 other contaminated lines – Kyros 128, Bangor 126 and Bangor 079. As with the other 3 lines, it is fodder beet seed sourced from Italy and certified by Danish authorities and imported and planted last year.

“We are testing other seed lines to get a better picture of where contaminated seed has been planted and to enable farmers to have good information about the safety of seed to plant this coming season,” Mr Yard says.

The Ministry is in the process of issuing a legal direction to seed merchants directing them to contact all companies and farmers that they sold the contaminated Feldherr line to, requesting they return any seed they still hold. 

Along with our earlier messaging that farmers inspect all fodder beet crops for velvetleaf, as a precautionary measure Mr Yard urges farmers who sowed Feldherr 131 to check their crops for velvetleaf, even though some of the properties may have already been inspected during the ‘search and destroy’ activities.

MPI intends to contact farmers who have received contaminated seed to provide velvetleaf management information. 

Seed lines Kyros 16UB128, Bangor 16UB126, Bangor 15UB079 and Feldherr 16UB131 that have tested positive for an unwanted organism will not be cleared for entry into New Zealand. Any that arrive here will either be re-shipped or destroyed.

“Testing of other fodder beet seed lines is continuing and MPI will share information with farmers as it becomes available,” Mr Yard says. 

To date velvetleaf has been found in 11 regions on 250 properties.

MPI is working with partners in local authorities and farming industry bodies to develop long term plans for managing this pest weed, and a workshop is planned for Friday 20 May to progress this planning.

MPI remains fully involved in this process and is leading a nationally-co-ordinated approach with the aim to contain and potentially reduce geographical spread over time. This may include velvetleaf elimination from some regions. It is vital landowners continue to inspect their properties for late-emerging velvetleaf. Farmers should ensure their on-farm biosecurity practices are strong and this includes following guidelines in the MPI farm management plan on machinery hygiene, feed management and stock movement. 

Details of the farm management plan can be found on MPI’s website and in a ‘ute guide’ for farmers to be distributed in the near future.

For advice or reporting suspected velvetleaf detections, farmers are asked to phone 0800 80 99 66.

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