Farmers need to be on the look out for Tropical Soda Apple.
Farmers need to be on the look out for Tropical Soda Apple. Contributed

Perfect conditions for aggressive weed to spread

FARMERS are urged to be on the lookout for a high risk weed on their properties.

Seasonal conditions through December and January have created a prime opportunity for the increased germination of Tropical Soda Apple, and landholders are asked to be vigilant in ensuring that their land was free of the plant. Tropical Soda Apple, a high risk weed for the north coast area, was an aggressive, prickly shrub that readily invades riverside and pasture areas.

North Coast Regional Weeds Coordinator, Justine Graham said, "While many land managers may have undertaken weed control prior to Christmas, the rate and amount of germination brought on by our warm summer conditions mean that places where the weed has occurred before and new areas where it might spread will need to be inspected as a priority.”

The plant fruits quickly following rain and produces a large number of viable seeds which have the potential to spread and germinate rapidly. Infestations impact agricultural land, forest, riparian zones, roadsides and parks, displacing native or existing plants. Seed was spread through cattle movement and baled grass, by flood, as well as by other animals that eat the fruit such as deer, pigs and birds.

"This is why Soda Apple is a high priority for control across the state and particularly in the North Coast region.” Justine said.

The importance of controlling this weed was highlighted in last year's release of stringent control requirement for all land managers under the Biosecurity (Tropical Soda Apple) Control Order 2017 and the listing of this species as an eradication target for the North Coast region in the North Coast Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017 - 2022.

Landholders are asked to be aware that allowing this plant to go to seed, or controlling it and not removing the fruit is a breach of the control order, as is the movement of stock, machinery or fodder off infested properties without suitable quarantine actions in place. Landholders should hold stock in Tropical Soda Apple free paddocks for seven days prior to sale and movement off infested properties.

Restricting livestock from grazing and moving through areas with Tropical Soda Apple will help reduce spread, as will regularly checking cattle handling facilities, cattle camps and yards for seedlings and new infestations.

The Control Order also specifies that individuals must report occurrences of this weed within 24 hours of detection. If you believe you may have Tropical Soda Apple on your property, please notify your Local Council Weeds Officer who can also provide further advice on the best methods of control.

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