A multi- million dollar program is under way designed to eradicate the only known infestation of the parasitic weed, branched broomrape, in Australia.
Presiding officer of the SA Animal and Plant Control Commission, Roger Wickes, said agreement had been reached between State and Federal Governments, GRDC, Horticulture Australia Limited and the CRC for Weed Management Systems for about $2.5 million to be spent in 2001-02.
Mr Wickes said the program would be long term because the seeds of branched broomrape had a "life of at least 13 years in dry storage".
Surveys have shown the weed, first discovered in 1992, to be confined to 130 properties in a 70 sq km area north-east of Murray Bridge in SA. "We are confident we can eradicate it," Mr Wickes said.
Branched broomrape is regarded as a major threat to both the production and international marketing of a wide range of broadacre and vegetable crops. It is a difficult weed to locate as it spends most of its life underground attached to host plant roots, only flowering for a three-week period in late spring.
Mr Wickes said a quarantine area had been established and appropriate protocols put in place involving the movement of grain, fodder, vegetable crops, livestock, machinery and soil.
"Paddocks with known infestations will carry signage identifying this," he said. "Any crops grown in these paddocks will be inspected and, if branched broomrape is found, the crops must run out to grain, not be cut for hay. Any contaminated grain has to be sold to the processing sector to minimise the risk of transfer of weed seeds.
"There are also protocols regarding the movement of livestock and vegetables, and machinery moving from an infested paddock has to be washed and sterilised.
"To date canola, mustard, vetch, cabbage and carrots have been confirmed as hosts and trials will continue on a range of other plants," Mr Wickes said.
"There will be a number of trials including the use of low levels of herbicides in herbicide-tolerant crops to control branched broomrape after it surfaces and before it flowers."
Contact: Mr Roger Wickes 08 8303 9529