In March 2016 Federated Farmers was notified of the presence of 3 blackgrass seeds in a 63 tonne consignment of domestically produced ryegrass produced in mid-Canterbury. Tracing to date indicates the most likely source of the contamination is a consignment of ryegrass imported in 2007 contaminated with blackgrass. A surveillance and monitoring programme has been in place on a number of properties known to have received the contaminated seed.
Blackgrass has been detected growing at three of the properties under surveillance. The plants have been removed and will be destroyed. The location of the plants on the properties suggests that the spread is minimal and confined to limited areas. Federated Farmers is encouraging the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to continue undertaking an intensive surveillance and monitoring programme at these and other risk sites.
The latest finds are not connected with the 2013 spillage of contaminated seed between Methven and Ashburton.
Blackgrass is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act (1993) and the weed must be eradicated before it has a chance to establish and damage New Zealand’s arable industry. If blackgrass were to establish in New Zealand it would have serious economic and environmental impacts on grain and seed crop production through reduced crop yields through competition for nutrients, light, water and space; increased herbicide use and associated costs; increased tillage costs; crop rotation changes to avoid peak blackgrass germination periods. The impact of blackgrass on the arable industry through reduced yields is estimated to be between $8.14 million and $82.4 million alone. This does not include any herbicide and machinery costs.
Federated Farmers encourages farmers to report any suspicious weeds to MPI’s Pests and Diseases hotline 0800 80 99 66. For more information click here to download the Ute Guide to Blackgrass produced by MPI, FAR, Environment Canterbury, NZGSTA, and Federated Farmers.