Velvetleaf alert for Selwyn farmers

by Anonymous Author

Cropping farmers in Selwyn have been asked to be on the lookout for the plant pest velvetleaf.

The plea comes from Environment Canterbury (ECan) following a Ministry for Primary Industries alert on the plant pest, which was introduced to New Zealand as a contaminant in fodder beet seed from Europe in 2015. 

“Left to spread, this invasive pest can quickly impact crops, severely reducing yield and grazing capacity, and impose high costs through lost productivity, increased stock management and lost income,” ECan’s biosecurity management advisor Laurence Smith said.

“With more than 500 farms having received at least one of the six affected seed lines in Canterbury, there is a real risk of spread both within and to other properties,” Mr Smith said.

“Not all plants will have been found so it is highly likely seed will have matured and contributed to a seed bank in the soil.

“Farmers will need to be vigilant this season, which runs until May. They should search crops to prevent seeding and make sure seed is not spread by stock, vehicles and machinery.” 


He said the MPI is managing the velvetleaf incursion response nationally and is assisting farmers with information and advice. 

Environment Canterbury, in partnership with MPI, is helping affected farmers formulate plans to manage the pest and prevent its spread.

Mr Smith said a farm management plan should include on-farm biosecurity, so preventing the spread of velvetleaf and other pests is top of mind at all times. “Farmers can implement farm biosecurity measures on their land by making sure they are notified when people intend to enter their property, and by implementing hygiene protocols such as checking and cleaning machines and vehicles.”

If farmers and other rural landowners have found velvetleaf or would like more information, they contact the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66.