Velvetleaf found on Southland property

A single case of the potentially devastating pest weed ‘velvetleaf’ has been identified on a Southland property. Farmers who have fodder beet crops are being asked to keep an eye out for any more plants.

Environment Southland senior biosecurity officer Randall Milne says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been investigating the appearance of this pest weed on a number of properties throughout the country and this is the first confirmed case in Southland.

Image of velvetleaf
Velvetleaf leaf image courtesy MPI

Velvetleaf is a serious weed problem overseas, damaging crops by competing with them for nutrients and water. It is an Unwanted Organism under the Biosecurity Act, and as such, entry to New Zealand is prohibited.

Mr Milne said now is a good time to identify any velvetleaf plants in Southland as they stand above the fodder beet crops and are quite distinctive with large, soft velvety leaves.

“Now is an important time to find these annual plants before they seed and create bigger issues next season.”

MPI is investigating how the weed seeds could have entered New Zealand. The affected consignments met New Zealand’s importing requirements and were certified as weed-free by the exporting country. The ministry is currently reviewing the import requirements for seed.

Farmers who have planted the specific Kyros and Bangor varieties of imported fodder beet seed are advised to take particular care to look out for the weed in their crops.

People finding suspected velvetleaf plants should photograph them, contact MPI on 0800 80 99 66 and mark the location of plants so they can be found again easily.

Do not pull up plants or allow stock to graze infested crops. An MPI or representative or Environment Southland biosecurity officer will carefully remove any plants to make sure seed is not spread.

  • Velvetleaf  has been discovered in this season’s fodder beet crops on properties in Canterbury, Otago, Marlborough and Waikato.