Horizons Regional Council has confirmed findings of Velvetleaf in fodder crop in the Whanganui, Ruapehu and Horowhenua districts.
Horizons biosecurity staff have been working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to assist in containing the spread of Velvetleaf and have found 252 plants while inspecting local properties.
Horizons biosecurity manager Bill Martyn says his team inspected 125 hectares over the Easter break.
“This included all known sites of the Kyros line of fodder beet which has been implicated in the Velvetleaf incursion,” says Mr Martyn.
“Unfortunately the majority of these sites, except in Ohakune, are in the advanced stage of shedding seed. Despite staff removing all seed they could find, the rain on Friday and Saturday nights has washed many away and into cracks in the ground.”
Mr Martyn says while all known sites of Kyros fodder beet have been examined, there may be other lines that have been affected.
“Our staff are proactively investigating other fodder crops, but as we cannot be everywhere at once, we urge farmers to check their crops for Velvetleaf with its distinctive large heart-shaped leaves. We have found it to also look like a dead thistle plant at sites in our Region.
“If you have any questions or would like some help checking your crop please give us a call on tollfree 0508 800 800. However, if you think you may have found the plant, please make immediate contact with MPI via tollfree number 0800 80 99 66.”
The next steps for Horizons biosecurity staff include contacting contractors and seed reps to isolate and identify the risk areas of farms.
“Our staff will also be working alongside farmers with advice for site management into the future. We understand they will be concerned about land use going forward and we will do everything we can to help,” says Mr Martyn.
The Ministry is currently investigating how the weed seeds could have entered New Zealand and working with a range of primary sector organisations and regional councils to establish the extent of its spread.