In­va­sive weed spreads

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life -

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fight­ing against ser­rated tus­sock’s march across the state has urged landown­ers to check their prop­er­ties for the nox­ious weed.

Ivan Carter from Vic­to­rian Ser­rated Tus­sock Work­ing Party said the weed had been spread­ing across western Vic­to­ria for the past decade.

“The re­cent rain and warm win­ter in some parts of Vic­to­ria has been good for crops, but un­for­tu­nately, also good for the growth of ser­rated tus­sock,” he said.

“Con­trol­ling ser­rated tus­sock be­fore the plant goes to seed is crit­i­cal to pre­vent fur­ther spread, lost pro­duc­tiv­ity and in­creased con­trol re­quire­ments.”

The largest oc­cur­rence of ser­rated tus­sock in Vic­to­ria has been at Lands­bor­ough and Hamil­ton.

“In­fes­ta­tions are also known to ex­ist at Stawell, Ararat, Dunkeld, Lake Bo­lac and Glenorchy,” Mr Carter said.

“The known in­fes­ta­tions in western Vic­to­ria are mostly be­ing treated by landown­ers, in co­or­di­na­tion with Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria, but it is feared there might be many more in­fes­ta­tions not yet iden­ti­fied across the re­gion.”

An­a­lysts be­lieve ser­rated tus­sock now cov­ers more than 240,000 hectares in Vic­to­ria.

Large in­fes­ta­tions of the weed re­quire on­go­ing man­age­ment and an in­te­gra­tion of sev­eral con­trol tech­niques. Each ma­ture ser­rated tus­sock plant can pro­duce 100,000 seeds in a sea­son, blow­ing up to 20 kilo­me­tres from the par­ent plant. The Vic­to­ria Ser­rated Tus­sock Work­ing Party, VSTWP, has ad­vised land man­agers that hav­ing com­pet­i­tive pas­ture and good ground cover was one of the most im­por­tant as­pects to weed man­age­ment.

“Ser­rated tus­sock is an ex­am­ple of a weed that does not like com­pe­ti­tion and well-es­tab­lished pas­tures,” Mr Carter said.

He said con­trol­ling ser­rated tus­sock be­fore the plant went to seed was crit­i­cal in pre­vent­ing fur­ther spread, lost pro­duc­tiv­ity and in­creased con­trol re­quire­ments.

“Con­trol can be achieved through the use of reg­is­tered her­bi­cide, man­ual re­moval or cul­ti­va­tion.

“We ad­vise land man­agers to reg­u­larly con­duct sur­veil­lance for ser­rated tus­sock and watch out for new in­fes­ta­tions that might be blown in or in­tro­duced through fod­der.

Be­fore flow­er­ing, ser­rated tus­sock has a lime-green ap­pear­ance. When flow­er­ing the flow­er­heads have a dis­tinc­tive pur­ple colour de­vel­op­ing as the seeds ripen in late spring and early sum­mer. “These fea­tures help ser­rated tus­sock stand out from the na­tive tus­sock grasses,” Mr Carter said.

The VSTWP has de­vel­oped an on­line video and in­for­ma­tion sheet, at www. ser­rat­ed­tus­sock.com, to help landown­ers iden­tify the pest grass.

NEED TO CON­TROL: A large in­fes­ta­tion of ser­rated tus­sock in a graz­ing pad­dock near Bac­chus Marsh.

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