Vel­vetleaf wait­ing game

South Waikato News - - Community Cookbook - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

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.

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