Velvetleaf, a serious cropping pest, has been found in fodder beet crops in North Canterbury and Central Otago.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating how it got there and how widespread it is. It appears the finds are associated with fodder beet crops.
Velvetleaf seeds are particularly hardy. They can persist for up to 50 years and can survive digestion and silage production. In the Waikato, velvetleaf has been found in pastures where contaminated maize silage has been fed.
Those farmers who sowed fodder beet this season should check their crop for velvetleaf.
- is a broad-leafed weed that grows to between 1m and 2.5m (usually higher than crops)
- has buttery-yellow flowers which appear over summer and autumn and heart-shaped leaves velvety to touch
- is likely to be found in a crop
- has seedlings which grow rapidly and compete with crop plants for nutrients, water and space (reducing crop yields).
Velvetleaf is known to be present in the Waikato where it is well managed by the regional council. The South Island discovery looks to be recent.
If you find velvetleaf
Photograph it, mark its location (so it can be found again easily) and immediately call MPI on its free hotline - 0800 80 99 66.
Do not remove any plants, as this could risk seed being spread.