Officials are scrambling to ensure an alien weed accidentally
spilled from a truck in mid-Canterbury does not become
established in New Zealand.
It follows news of a potential blackgrass incursion
"The seed was spilt between Ashburton and a seed dressing
plant in the Methven area and is a serious threat to arable
farming in New Zealand," Federated Farmers mid-Canterbury
grains chairman David Clark said.
"We have just one chance to get this right and we commend
[Ministry for Primary Industries] MPI for identifying and
informing us of this restricted weed's presence.
Mr Clark said technical staff at the ministry and the
Foundation of Arable Research were urgently gathering
information from overseas and local sources to put a response
plan in place.
"Blackgrass has proved to be one of the toughest weeds to
control on European and UK cropping farms. Without specific
management, blackgrass can reduce yields in wheat to beyond
the point where it is economic to grow the crop and could
also put in jeopardy New Zealand's lucrative ryegrass seed
Control options overseas had proved only partially
successful. In New Zealand it would mean more chemical use
and deeper cultivation.
"Even then, blackgrass had shown a strong tendency to develop
resistance to a number of different chemical families.
"The good news is that preliminary tests show low viability.
This bit of luck has given us a reasonable chance of
success," Mr Clark said.