Media release

Otago farmers urged to stay on the lookout for velvetleaf

Thursday 5 May 2016

The Otago Regional Council says the immediate threat from velvetleaf has been tackled but the fight against the invasive pest plant isn’t yet won.

ORC director of environmental monitoring and operations Scott MacLean said about 200 plants were found and destroyed from 51 properties following the completion of several hundred inspections.

Mr MacLean said there were two velvetleaf plants on average per hectare on confirmed sites, ranging from one plant in a 52 hectare area to 14 plants in a 14 hectare area. The largest concentration of plants was 17 in one 50ha paddock.

Mr MacLean urged Otago farmers on properties where velvetleaf plants had been removed from fodder beet crops to be vigilant, because it was suspected in a small number of cases that seeds may have dropped from the plants before they were removed, creating the potential for them to germinate.

“Farmers have been excellent at contacting the MPI hotline with their concerns about possibly contaminated fodder beet, but we are asking them to continue to be vigilant over the next few growing seasons,” Mr MacLean said.

“It’s a case of them being really proactive, knowing where the potential contamination is, and at appropriate times of the year, going back and looking for velvetleaf plants which may have sprung up.”

Mr MacLean said ORC and MPI would provide ongoing education and support for farmers, but the onus was on them to do their own monitoring and reporting.

ORC has been leading the regional response to the discovery of velvetleaf since early March, in support of the nationwide response led by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). A MPI hotline handled hundreds of calls from Otago landowners concerned they had the plant on their property.

ORC staff were supported by a 35-strong contingent of volunteers, as well staff from Asure Quality, MPI, and the Hawkes Bay and Canterbury regional councils.

For more information contact

Scott MacLean
Director environmental monitoring and operations
027 4119459