Be alert for Velvetleaf

The pest plant velvetleaf should be high on cropping farmers’ minds over the next few months, Environment Canterbury said today. The Ministry for Primary Industries recently sent out an alert to this effect – go to

“Left to spread, this invasive pest can quickly impact crops, severely reducing yield and grazing capacity, and impose high costs through lost productivity, increased stock management and lost income,” said Laurence Smith, Environment Canterbury Principal Management Advisor Biosecurity.

Velvetleaf was introduced to New Zealand as a contaminant in fodder beet seed from Europe in 2015.

“With over 500 farms having received at least one of the six affected seed lines in Canterbury, there is a real risk of spread both within and to other properties,” Mr Smith said. “Not all plants will have been found so it is highly likely seed will have matured and contributed to a seed bank in the soil.

“Farmers will need to be vigilant this season, which runs until May. They should search crops to prevent seeding and make sure seed is not spread by stock, vehicles and machinery.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries is managing the velvetleaf incursion response nationally and is assisting farmers with information and advice.

Environment Canterbury, in partnership with MPI, is helping affected farmers formulate plans to manage the pest and prevent its spread. “Your farm management plan should include on-farm biosecurity so preventing the spread of velvetleaf and other pests is top of mind at all times,” Laurence Smith said.

“Farmers can implement farm biosecurity measures on their land by making sure they are notified when people intend to enter their property and implementing hygiene protocols such as checking and cleaning machines and vehicles.”

If you have found velvetleaf or would like more information, contact the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66.

For free farm biosecurity signs for your property contact Environment Canterbury at