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What is Velvetleaf? If you find velvetleaf Having velvetleaf on your land Velvetleaf in maize silage Velvetleaf in crops Additional resources

Velvetleaf is a serious cropping pest and has been found in fodder beet and maize crops across the country. If you find velvetleaf, take a photo, note the place, and contact MPI immediately at 0800 80 99 66

Velvetleaf is a serious cropping pest and has been found in fodder beet and maize crops across the country.

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 crops until they have been grazed.

What is Velvetleaf?

  • A broad-leafed weed 1m-2.5m tall.
  • 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.

If you find velvetleaf

Photograph it, mark its location and immediately call the MPI free hotline - 0800 80 99 66.

If you have velvetleaf on your land

For specific information and support on how to manage velvetleaf contact the following community outreach coordinators.


Sally Linton: email sally.linton.nz@gmail.com or call 027 278 1620


Ashley Mills: email ashley.mills@far.org.nz or call 027 266 7794

Velvetleaf in maize silage

If you buy your maize silage how much do you know about the crop and where it comes from?

  • Velvetleaf seed is not destroyed by the ensiling of maize silage
  • Feeding infected maize onto a feed pad will not prevent its spread to the rest of the property
  • Velvetleaf seeds can remain viable for 50 years and one plant can produce thousands of seeds
  • The biosecurity of your property is your responsibility

If you are buying maize silage you should

  • Inspect the crop before harvest
  • Ask the seller that the property is velvetleaf free (could be a term in your contract)
  • Ask the contractor if they are harvesting from any known velvetleaf properties
  • Ensure the contractor is undertaking appropriate machinery hygiene practices

Velvetleaf in crops

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.
Last updated: Sep 2023

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