Invasive weed harming 50 NZ properties

  • 25/03/2016

An aggressive weed that damages farming crops has been confirmed on 50 properties across the country, with authorities stepping up their bid to stop its spread.

The velvetleaf weed harms crops by competing with them for nutrients and water, and has contaminated fodder beet plantations on the North and South Islands, with the majority of cases in Canterbury.

Ministry of Primary Industries plant and environment surveillance manager Mark Bullians says while the pesky plant may sound pretty, it has a major impact on crop production.

"It is a very invasive weed that is very successful at competing with crops for nutrients, space and water," he said.

"Right now we're still working to locate outbreaks and remove them from the ground, ideally before seed drops."

Farmers and growers who have planted fodder beet this season are advised to check their crops.

"We will arrange for technical experts to come and remove velvetleaf plants. Do not attempt to remove them yourself as this risks spreading the seed."

Two varieties in particular are implicated - Kyros and Bangor - but others may also be affected.

Velvetleaf is a tall-growing weed with buttery yellow flowers and large velvety heart-shaped leaves and can reach heights of up to two metres.