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Stay Alert For Chilean Needle Grass

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is urging landowners to protect their farms by looking out for Chilean Needle Grass and reporting any sightings to the Regional Council.

Regional Council Team Lead Biosecurity Matt Short says now is the time Chilean Needle Grass is most visible with the large, purple flowers blooming in November and December.

“November and December are the months when you’re most likely to spot this plant among the rest. The flowerheads are large, drooping, and purple so can make it easy to recognise when surveying paddocks. But as we head into the height of summer, the plant turns a straw colour so can make identifying Chilean Needle Grass difficult.”

“Chilean Needle Grass is a nasty pest plant. Once it gets onto land, it moves fast and thrives in dry, hard, hill country areas. The grass is detrimental to productive grassland as it out-competes desirable pastures.”

“We’re encouraging farmers to keep an eye out for Chilean Needle Grass on their land in the coming weeks and to report any sightings immediately to the Regional Council. Our pest plant team can follow up with a visit to the property and advise on a plan with appropriate control methods.

"It’s important we get on top of any new populations early so it’s easier to manage the potential long-term spread of this invasive pest.”

Mr Short says Chilean Needle Grass can also create a raft of agricultural and economic issues for the farming community.

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“We know the effect this plant can have on livestock, dogs, and horses. The seeds are sharp and can create wounds when they enter hides, wool, and skins. The seeds can get into the eyes of farm animals and cause blindness. We take biosecurity seriously and have a programme in place to help manage the impacts of Chilean Needle Grass across the region.”

To report a sighting, head to hbrc.govt.nz and search #pesthub, or contact the Regional Council pest plant team on 06 835 9200.

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