Concern as Chilean needle grass on the increase

A mild winter combined with moist humid spring/early summer conditions have combined to create a great season for pasture growth. Unfortunately, undesirable grass species also enjoy these conditions.

Chilean needle grass (CNG) has been more noticeable this season with an increase in plants at some of the known infestations, some spread and a new site found by a land owner near Waiau.

“Standing tall with purple seed heads, there is no better time to spot CNG than right now,” said Laurence Smith, Principal Resource Management Advisor Biosecurity at Environment Canterbury. CNG poses a major threat to Canterbury’s productive farm land as it is invasive, very difficult to eliminate, avoided by stock and develops a lasting seed bank. The seeds are a sharp, corkscrew shape, which are readily moved by animals, people, crops and machinery. CNG seed spread 10 to 15 years ago is presenting as a significant barrier to containing CNG in Canterbury. Smith said: "Some CNG found in recent years has been tracked back to machinery movement almost 15 years ago.”

Smith continued: “Once established, the potential costs of control and changes to stock management can be significant. Current control tools, while effective in the short term, do not have long-term impacts. Ongoing annual control is required.” He added: “People should be vigilant for CNG plants on their land while going about their day, especially in areas where stock move or camp, hay is fed, or machinery and vehicles have been, especially those which have been on other properties.” Putting farm hygiene requirements in place for visiting vehicles and machinery, and practicing farm biosecurity, can reduce the spread of plant pests like CNG.

If you see it, report it

Environment Canterbury is relying on people to report potential incidences of CNG: “We appreciate people advising us if they think they have found CNG, even if many reports are often just similar looking grasses, such as common brome grass or common needle grass.”

Environment Canterbury is working with people who have CNG on their land. If you suspect that you have found it, please do not try to pull it out. Instead, take a photo of the plant and a close up of the seed head and send it to with details of the location or call 0800 324 636 for assistance. If you think you have seen it, report it!

For more info on why CNG is a problem and what it looks like: