Eyes out for purple pest
Chilean needle grass’ purple seed head is easy to spot right now.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council senior plant pest advisor Alice McNatty says it’s the best time of year to make sure this pest plant isn’t growing.
“Checking to see if there are any distinctive purple seed heads is the easiest it will be all year because the head is visible in spring and early summer making the plant easier to distinguish from other
grasses. By identifying and being able to control the plant early we can contain the plant much more easily before it sneaks its way into productive land,” says Alice.
“Chilean needle grass can be a real issue for farmers once it gets onto their land. It has a sharp seed head that causes problems for stock as it can pierce an animal’s eyes and skin. The seeds spread easily on contaminated machinery, vehicles, feed and stock, so we’re asking people to be vigilant and keep an eye out.” To prevent spread, landowners should only allow clean vehicles and machinery on to their property, and make sure any stock or feed brought onto the farm have not come from an infested property.
Chilean needle grass grows well in dry, hard, hill country areas with light soil, heavily grazed pasture and bare ground where there’s less competition from desirable pasture plants.
In Hawke’s Bay, Chilean needle grass is found on approximately 200 properties, covering around 600ha in Maraeka¯ kaho, Bay View, Puketapu, Havelock North, Omakere, Poukawa,
Po¯ rangahau, Waipawa and Waipukurau.
“More Hawke’s Bay landowners are aware of Chilean needle grass as a pest plant now, and at the recent A&P Show many of them came and saw our display of the plant which should help them to identify any plants on their land,” says Alice.
“If anyone has concerns that the plant has got onto their land, we can follow up with a visit to their property and advise on a plan and control methods.”
■ Contact the pest plant team at Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on (06) 833-8083.