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Published: 2017-01-24 09:00:00

Flowering velvetleaf plant.The damaging pest plant velvetleaf is easiest to spot in summer and Waikato Regional Council is urging farmers who find it to move fast before it seeds and spreads.

Velvetleaf has been confirmed on 30 properties in the Waikato region. It was most recently found in a maize crop just before Christmas by a landowner in the Morrinsville area.

Waikato Regional Council pest plant officers are now working with the landowner to develop a biosecurity management plan for the property.

“Now is the right time to be looking for velvetleaf, and particularly near gateways where machinery first enter, as well as in the first 12-20 outside rows of the crop,” said biosecurity pest plants team leader, Darion Embling.

“Right now its buttery-yellow flowers will be starting to develop and may even be out, and its distinctive seedpods or capsules should still be green.

“Farmers who spot velvetleaf need to move fast to eradicate the plants before they seed and this pest spreads further. Our pest plant officers can provide expert advice around how to best do this,” Mr Embling said.

Meanwhile, pest plant officers have begun inspecting about 70 properties found to be at risk of being infested with velvetleaf in April last year. This work is continuing, but so far no new infestations have been found.

In the Waikato a small number of the infestations found last year were linked to imported fodder beet seeds. But subsequent tracing found it had spread in the Waikato via infested maize and maize silage, and by unclean harvest machinery.

Velvetleaf is considered one of the world’s worst cropping weeds and reduced yields, combined with the cost of control, could mean a significant loss of income if not controlled.

Visit or call 0800 BIOSEC (246 732) for help.