Velvetleaf waiting game
Waikato maize growers will soon know how badly the region is affected by velvetleaf because the invasive weed is expected to start appearing in paddocks in October.
Velvetleaf has been discovered on 29 Waikato farms - predominantly in the Te Aroha-waihou area since it was found in late April this year. It is suspected to have spread to another 70 farms in the region.
These farms would be closely monitored and a 12-person industry-wide committee was being established to help spearhead velvetleaf management this summer, Waikato Federated Farmers arable chairman John Hodge said.
Waikato Regional Council pest plants team leader Darion Embling said ignoring the risks could come at a huge cost.
In the best-case scenario, the region faced a 30 per cent loss of income for the arable industry a decade from now.
‘‘The arable industry in New Zealand is worth $1.5 billion so you are looking at $500 million per year this country could lose.’’
Dealing with the weed cost the Waikato Regional Council more than $200,000 last year.
Key to containing it in summer would be management plans specific to the farms where fodderbeet was found. Its discovery in maize meant it could potentially be spread to other farms through sales of maize grain and silage for cattle, chickens, goats and pigs.
Velvetleaf seeds could become mixed in the feed, eaten and spread.