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Potential blackgrass incursion concerns Arable farmers

8 April 2015

Potential blackgrass incursion concerns Arable farmers

Federated Farmers and other arable industry groups, including Foundation of Arable Research and New Zealand Grain & Seed Trade Association, are working with MPI in their investigation and response following the detection of blackgrass seeds during a routine sampling of rye grass seed in Canterbury last month.

Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chair and member of the Blackgrass Governance Group Guy Wigley says it’s disappointing to have another incursion when farmers are still coming to terms with the potentially devastating impact of velvetleaf. “We are concerned about the potential implications of blackgrass for New Zealand’s world-leading seed production and multiplication industry.”

An inspection of paddocks where the rye grass seed was grown has not found any further blackgrass plants. We reiterate that this is an isolated finding and investigations are under way to establish the source of the contamination. Federated Farmers urges a thorough investigation is undertaken to trace all potentially contaminated material.

“MPI assure us that all practical steps have been taken to isolate and contain the blackgrass incursion,” says Wigley. “MPI should be congratulated for finding three seeds among a 62,000kg shipment; however this is another reminder that we must be vigilant in maintaining New Zealand’s biosecurity and protecting our agricultural sector from unwanted pests.”

Blackgrass is an invasive plant that is difficult to contain once it spreads. It competes with winter crops for light, nutrients, space and water, resulting in yield loss and increased cultivation costs that could be potentially devastating to the New Zealand Arable Industry.

For further information contact:
Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson, 027 603 3821
Colin Hurst, Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson, 027 689 5898

END

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