Toxic spores warning
Facial eczema spore counts are at high levels over most of the North Island.
AsureQuality is warning farmers that the risk of facial eczema is high in many North Island regions after the long drought and recent rain which has fallen on very warm soils.
The most recent report from Gribbles Veterinary Laboratory showed counts are at extremely high levels in many districts.
AsureQuality facial eczema monitoring coordinator Leo Cooney said the fungus Pithomyces chartarum (that produces the toxic spores), thrives on drought desiccated pastures where the surface soil temperatures remain warm after soaking rain.
‘‘This results in the desiccated litter at the base of the pastures decaying rapidly and providing an ideal medium for the fungi to use as a nutrient, and in turn produce its very toxic spores.’’
Although night and morning temperatures may feel cooler, it takes a lot to cool the earth’s soil temps at this time of the year.
In Horowhenua last week soil temps ranged between 19.3 and 21.5 degrees Celsius – perfect growing conditions for the spores.
Farmers need to remain vigilant and maintain precautions until facial eczema spore counts and soil temperatures drop.
Our worst facial eczema outbreaks have followed prolonged droughts, when susceptible livestock are grazing very short pastures.
For the latest facial eczema spore results visit: asurequality. com/ facialeczema-reports.cfm.