Velvetleaf seeds can persist on farms for up to 50 years and can survive digestion and silage processes. It is highly invasive and competes with crops for space, nutrients and water.
It's important farmers remain on the look-out and keep checking their fodder beet crops until they have been grazed.
In the Waikato, velvetleaf has also been found in maize and maize silage. For more information, click here.
Bay of Plenty
In addition to the matter of velvetleaf in fodder beet, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council is also investigating the possibility of velvetleaf in the region, in maize or maize silage.
What is velvetleaf?
- A broad-leafed weed 1m-2.5m tall (usually higher than fodder beet crops).
- It has buttery-yellow flowers over summer and autumn, and heart-shaped leaves velvety to touch.
- It has seedlings which grow rapidly and compete for nutrients, water and space.
- It has large numbers of distinctive seed pods, 2.5cm across, with 12 or more segments.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating how widespread it is and is developing plans to contain and remove it. For more information visit www.mpi.govt.nz/velvetleaf
If you have velvetleaf in your fodder beet crop and want to graze stock
Stock can spread velvetleaf seed around the farm and to other properties via their hooves and waste. Keeping stock out of velvetleaf-infested paddocks is the best possible action to avoid spreading this weed.
In most situations this is not feasible, as you have invested heavily in the crop and are reliant on it to feed your stock. Therefore the following approach is recommended.
- If possible, fence off any areas where velvetleaf has been found within a paddock, to keep stock out.
- Leave the animals on the fodder beet as long as possible.
- Consider using holding paddocks to keep stock on for three days, if feasible.
- Record where stock have been for up to a week after grazing, so these sites can be checked in future years.
- Use your usual farm management biosecurity practises, such as cleaning farm machinery before moving it off the farm.
- Deploy the usual weed management measures.
In due course, someone from the velvetleaf response team will work with you to develop a farm management plan to stop this pest weed getting out of the gate or around the farm.
Containing velvetleaf seed while you await technical support
For farmers who have reported suspected velvetleaf and are concerned about plants seeding while they are waiting on the velvetleaf response team field visit, the following actions could help mitigate risk of seed fall:
Bag it – bend it
- If seed heads are present on the plant, carefully place a large bag (like a fertiliser bag or sack or similar) over the seed capsules and flowers on the plant and tie the bag tightly around the stem. It is important to make sure all seed heads are contained within the bag.
- The velvetleaf plant should then be bent in half so that seeds cannot escape out of the neck of the bag. The plant should remain in place until field staff visit.
If you find velvetleaf
Photograph it, mark its location and immediately call MPI on its free hotline - 0800 80 99 66.