Vel­vetleaf leaf num­bers un­changed

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil (WRC) staff have warned farm­ers to stay alert for signs of vel­vetleaf, de­spite no new cases found so far this sum­mer.

The num­ber of con­firmed cases of the pest weed has re­mained un­changed at 29 since au­tumn.

The in­va­sive pest is an an­nual plant that ger­mi­nates in the late­spring early-sum­mer and any new sight­ings should now be vis­i­ble on farm­land. In Au­gust, Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil staff said they sus­pected it to have po­ten­tially spread to about 70 farms.

Five of these cases have been con­firmed from maize crops, WRC pest plant of­fi­cer Heidi Pene told farm­ers at a Foun­da­tion for Arable Re­search (FAR) field day at Tama­here, south of Hamil­ton.

Ev­ery con­firmed sight­ing has been recorded and checked and the WRC has un­der­taken a man­age­ment plan with the landown­ers to help them keep farm­ing while con­tain­ing the weed.

One of the maize-grow­ing af­fected farm­ers re­verted the crop back to pas­ture so the weed could be found and erad­i­cated.

Two of the five grow­ers were com­mer­cial grow­ers and both were en­gaged in con­trol regimes to limit the plant’s spread. There were also nine cases of vel­vetleaf found in fod­der­beet, with about four to five plants found on each of these farms.

The rest of the cases are on dairy pas­ture which were spread ei­ther from in­fected farm ma­chin­ery or maize silage which con­tained vel­vetleaf seed.

Pene said it was hoped they erad­i­cated the plants on the fod­der­beet crops be­fore they turned to seed.

‘‘But there’s a good chance there were plants we didn’t pick up on.’’

Some of those pad­docks would go back into crops again this year and would have to be in­ten­sively checked while other farm­ers have re­verted the crop back to pas­ture.

A man­age­ment plan for the af­fected farms had also been cre­ated. This in­cluded pre and post-emer­gence spray­ing, cleaning any cul­ti­vat­ing ma­chin­ery com­ing onto the farm be­fore it left and be­ing able to walk through the crop to check it for signs of the plant.

‘‘You have to walk through your crops and put your hand on your heart and say ‘there is no vel­vetleaf in my maize’, be­fore it goes off your prop­erty,’’ Pene said.

GER­ALD PIDDOCK

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil’s Heidi Pene and Dar­ion Em­bling talk to farm­ers at a field day.

RACHAEL KELLY/FAIR­FAX NZ

Vel­vetleaf.

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