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Noxious weed spreading in GV

Unwelcome visitor: The maroon haze belongs to Chilean needle grass, spreading along Toolamba-Rushworth Rd.

A Goulburn Valley Landcare group has warned of the encroachment of a nasty exotic weed onto farms and roadsides.

Chilean needle grass was introduced into Australia in the 1930s and has a reputation for spreading onto farmland.

Harston Landcare Group secretary Emily Crawford said the group was concerned because up until a few years ago, the weed had not been present in the area.

“It appears to be spreading significantly, especially along roadsides,” she said.

“And we don’t think many landholders are aware of its spread.”

Ms Crawford, who has a farm in the Harston area, said the plant was distinguishable at this time of the year by a maroon haze when it flowered.

The plant has a sharp spear that can embed into sheep fleece or livestock eyes.

Agriculture Victoria biosecurity officer Alastair Campbell said the weed was thriving in the temperate Australian climate and had the potential to spread into millions of hectares.

“It has great potential to spread due to the seed production,” he said.

The tussocking perennial grows about one metre high and it produces a large number of seeds, adding up to about 15,000 seeds per square metre. The sharp seeds can remain viable for up to three years.

Mr Campbell said the spread of the declared noxious weed could take over pasture and injure livestock.

“So it can impact economically on agricultural land and can cause environmental damage by displacing native grasses.

“In recent years it has become a more serious weed in south-eastern Australia.”

The plant has no leafy material and very little nutritional value for stock.

The weed is believed to have become established in Australia in the 1930s after it was introduced from South America.

Noxious neighbour: An infestation of Chilean needle grass. Photo: Agriculture Victoria.

ERADICATING CHILEAN NEEDLE GRASS

  • Identify the plant. Chilean needle grass can look like some native species.
  • Consider chipping out individual plants if numbers are low.
  • Seek advice on registered herbicide spray controls. Talk to your chemical supplier for application rates and optimum time of year.