Chilean Needle Grass new incursion in North Canterbury

December 12, 2011

Chilean Needle Grass new incursion in North Canterbury


Late last week the plant pest Chilean Needle Grass was found on a Leader Road East property in the Hurunui District.

The land occupier contacted Environment Canterbury Biosecurity on Thursday after finding a grass that he thought may have been Chilean Needle Grass, which is a plant pest under the Regional Pest Management Strategy.

Environment Canterbury Principal Biosecurity Advisor, Laurence Smith said that a wider inspection was made last Friday and it was confirmed that there was Chilean Needle Grass present on the property.

“A ground search found that Chilean Needle Grass is reasonably well established over approximately one third of the 500 hectare property and was easily visible from 100-200 metres away.

“The extent of the infestation is such that it must have been growing on the property for some time.

“The land occupier is working with Environment Canterbury to make sure that the outbreak is contained and does not spread any further. The Chilean Needle Grass is at the stage where seed will begin falling extensively sometime in the next week or two.

“Spraying the Chilean Needle Grass at this time with a mix of the herbicide Taskforce, mixed with Glyphostate will kill the Chilean Needle Grass plant, but will not prevent this season’s seedlings. Provided stock, people, dogs, vehicles and machinery are kept out of the affected areas the of spread will be minimised,” he says.

All neighbouring properties are being thoroughly checked early this week by Environment Canterbury Biosecurity staff to ensure that the seeds have not spread and these properties do not contain Chilean Needle Grass also.

Laurence Smith said that Chilean Needle Grass spreads by stock movement, machinery, crops and feed, and people.

Chilean Needle Grass is a major problem for dry hill country farmers in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. It was first found in Canterbury at Spotswood, a North Canterbury property in 2008.

“It is important to remember that if you suspect that your property does have Chilean Needle Grass to contact Environment Canterbury Biosecurity immediately and not to move stock or machinery that could be affected. “ he says.

Chilean Needle Grass is a tufted perennial plan which grows to one metre in the absence of grazing. Its leaves are bright green and harsh to touch. The flowers have a purple tinge and ripen into hard, sharp seeds along with twisting tails. These help the seed penetrate farm animals’ skin and reseed into the soil.

If you suspect Chilean Needle Grass is on your property please contact Environment Canterbury on 03 314 8014.


For more information: Laurence Smith, Environment Canterbury, Principal Biosecurity Advisor, 03 314 7034.