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ORC supports hunt for velvetleaf

Media Release - 24 March 2016

Otago Regional Council (ORC) is throwing its weight behind the efforts to find and contain the pest agricultural weed velvetleaf.

ORC environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said council staff and farmers in the region were working together to identify and contain any areas affected by the pest plant.

“We have had 10 confirmed reports of velvetleaf in our region so far,” Mr MacLean said. “Our staff have worked with farmers to remove the plants and contain their spread.”

Mr MacLean said while velvetleaf may sound pretty, it’s anything but. In locations where it is established internationally, it has significant impacts on crop production.

“It is a very invasive weed that is very successful at competing with crops for nutrients, space and water,” Mr MacLean said.

“Right now we’re working with farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to locate outbreaks and remove them from the ground, ideally before seed drops.”

Mr MacLean said farmers who have planted fodder beet seed should be particularly vigilant in checking crops.

“The common denominator in all infestations to date is the planting of imported fodder beet seed. Two varieties in particular are implicated - Kyros and Bangor – although MPI is considering the possibility that other varieties could be involved,” he said.

“Check your fodder beet crops and if you believe you have found this weed, photograph any plants, mark the locations so they can be easily found again, and call the free hotline 0800 80 99 66

“Technical experts will then come and remove any velvetleaf plants. Do not attempt to remove them yourself as this risks spreading the seed.”

Mr MacLean said there is good advice for farmers on combating velvetleaf on MPI’s website – www.mpi.govt.nz

For more information contact

Scott MacLean
ORC
Director environmental monitoring and operations
027 4119459

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