The difference between branched (many stemmed ) and common (one main stem) broomrape weed.

Keep your eye out for branched broomrape, in WA.

Due to this year’s interesting weather patterns many people have reported a spike in the amount of broomrape in paddocks and nature reserves. What you may not know is that there are different types of this weed with vastly different consequences for agricultural productivity and export markets.

Branched broomrape is currently targeted under DAFWA’s weed surveillance project due to its potential to adversely impact the agricultural industry. The branched version could easily be confused with common broomrape but to date, it has only been found in South Australia in the Murray Bridge area.

Common broomrape-

Common Broomrape is a brown sticky cylindrical plant that parasitises crops and broad-leaf weeds.

Common broomrape (Orobanche minor) a plant lacking in chlorophyll that relies on other plants for nutrients.

Common broomrape is a parasitic plant which has no chlorophyll and relies on its host for nutrients. The lack of chlorophyll is why the plant is brown. It has a translucent pinky brown stem which is sticky to touch. It is common among capeweed and other broad leaf weeds on roadsides and in agricultural areas. If you have the common variety, dig out the plant making sure you get the bulb-like base of the plant before it can set seed. Bag the plants and dispose in the rubbish bin. Quick disposal after pulling is advised as those left heaped on the ground can still go to seed.

Branched broomrape-

The difference between branched (many stemmed) broomrape and common (one main stem) broomrape.

The difference between branched and common broomrape.

The stem of branched broomrape is erect, thin and richly branched. These branches terminate in flowering spikes. Brown or straw-coloured, it grows 10-30cm high.

Impacts of branched broomrape-

Branched broomrape can be parasitic to a wide range of crops and pastures from several plant families, including canola, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, pulse crops, pasture legumes, cucurbits, hemp, lettuce, sunflower, linseed, beans, capsicums, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Annoyingly this weed will be parasitic to a range of weeds, enabling it to reproduce even when crops are not present.

The weed’s presence could result in partial or total crop losses and the possible loss of potential to produce some crops in heavily affected areas. Branched broomrape can also cause the loss of export markets interstate and overseas, and increases in management and control costs.

Prevention of branched broomrape-

Branched broomrape a many stemmed parasitic brown weed.

Branched broomrape causes huge impacts in agricultural areas.

  • Practice good biosecurity and avoid bringing any contaminated seed, machinery or livestock onto your property.
  • Be vigilant and learn to identify the weeds on and around your property. Report unfamiliar weeds using the MyWeedWatcher on-line reporting tool or the app (see agric.wa.gov.au/myweedwatcher) or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881 or info@agric.wa.gov.au.

For more information about branched broomrape identification, search our website: agric.wa.gov.au.  If you think you have branched broomrape or find any other parasitic plant attacking crop or pasture species, please do not attempt to control it, report it as soon as possible.

 

Green Army join fight against cotton bush

A Green Army team has joined up with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group to pull up mature cotton bush plants on a site in the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale.

On a site visit to the Murdoch University run Whitby Farm, Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Officers noticed a large infestation of cotton bush adjoining the farm boundary along an unmanaged gazetted road. After learning how the Whitby Farm had successfully eradicated large areas of cotton bush from their property, PHBG officers decided they would look at options to extend this control past the farm’s boundaries. A Green Army team was active in the area and in conjunction with Landcare SJ and the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council it was organised that the team would spend two days pulling up cotton bush.

 

The Green Army is a hands-on, practical environmental action programme that supports local environment and heritage conservation projects across Australia.

 

Cotton bush management

Cotton bush is easily spread by the wind with every cotton bush seed pod containing around 100 seeds. When the pod dries up and drops from the plant, the seeds are carried in the wind and where ever they fall, germinate into new plants. The solution to the cotton bush problem is to break the seed cycle by spraying herbicide or manually removing the cotton bush before it sets seed. When a cotton bush has seed pods formed, the pods can be carefully collected in a plastic bag before removal, or the entire plant can be covered by a bin bag before pulling out.

 

cotton bush seeds

Cotton bush seeds are small and light making them easily spread on the wind.

 

Mature plants can be difficult to remove, as has been the case at this Whitby site. Mature plants can be cut off at the base and herbicide applied to the cut stem to kill the root and prevent regrowth. Another control method option in winter is to cut the mature plant at its base leaving no more than two centimeters of stem and then stomping on the base of the plant until the stem is cracked and damaged- this leaves the plant open to root rot.

To decrease the spread of seed, cotton bush plants can be piled on site and burnt at a later date if applicable or can even be deep buried.

 

 

Green Army pull out cotton bush weed in Whitby.

Green Army participants pull cotton bush in Whitby.

Once an area has been cleared property owners must be vigilant of regrowth. Young cotton bush plants are easy to manage with herbicide and hand pulling, restricting the regrowth so cotton bush doesn’t mature and set seed is the most effective way of ensuring control into the future.

For more information on the different control methods and products available check out the DAFWA website. There is information available on cotton bush as well as other declared pests.

Cotton bush and the community

Controlling declared pests such as cotton bush is the responsibility of landholders and the local community. Declared pests costs society in lots of different ways, but if we can work together many hands make light work and the Peel-Harvey region can become a cotton bush free area. The PHBG’s mission is to educate the community on effective management techniques, helping provide the tools for the removal and control of declared pests. If you would like to become involved in the group or have some ideas on how to get your community involved in pest control, contact us through email at info@peelharveybiosecurity.info.

For more information on the Green Army programme click here.

 

A white flowered bulb garden plant that is toxic to stock.

Bulbs – bloomin’ dodgy in our bushland.

Recently a report has come through of a C1 weed category bulb identified in native bushland in the Peel region. The only other confirmed population of this bulb species is in Victoria. All C1 declared pest are actively excluded from WA and is the highest control level attributed to declared pests. C1 prohibited organisms may only be imported and kept subject to permits. Permit conditions applicable to some species may only be appropriate or available to research organisations or similarly secure institutions.

Declared bulb species can be purchased over the internet on international sites. However, the importing of plant material into Australia is highly regulated due to the biosecurity risks. Australia’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON)  has all the information you need to know about any plant material you may want to purchase over the internet, including whether or not the plant is declared and/or not permitted.

The recent finding of the high risk bulb in the Peel region has highlighted the need for gardeners to become informed on the pest potential their garden bulb species may have, especially since pest plants escaping from private gardens is the most common way of becoming established in bushland.

Bulbs and what they mean for the bush-

Bulbs are plants that are generally spring flowering and reproduce and spread from corms and bulbs. In bushland they can quickly become a problem as the corms and bulbs are protected in the soil from extreme weather conditions and the plants are also drought tolerant. The bulbs can even be protected from fires and herbicide use allowing the plant to continue to spread.

Black Flag an interesting garden plant with a peculiar smell and black flowers. Invasive in bushland.

Black flag (Ferraria crispa) is a popular bulb purchased due to its unusual succulent looking bracts and leaves, even with an unpleasant odour from its black flowers. Black flag has a high reproductive capacity and will seed prolifically, producing stacked corms that make it very hard to treat with chemicals.

A white flowered bulb garden plant that is toxic to stock. Invasive in bushand.

Chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) is extremely invasive and highly toxic to livestock. This bulb should be carefully considered before planting if the surrounding landscape includes farmland, lifestyle blocks, national parks or urban reserves.

How do they get into bushland?-

The most common way ornamental gardening species find their way into bushland is through inappropriate management and disposal. The illegal dumping of garden waste in bushland areas creates a big problem in the spread of declared and invasive weeds.

Solirisation can be achieved by placing a plastic sheet on the ground and weighing it down with bricks.

Solarisation can be achieved with a large plastic sheet and weights.

When working on bulb species in the garden bag up any plant material, soil and/or the corms or bulbs. Leave the bag out in the sun for a couple of weeks before disposing into the general rubbish, you can also solarise larger areas of soil using plastic sheeting. Be aware that composting alone will not kill the corms or bulbs and gardeners should always be aware of the dispersal of plants and seeds from their own garden into the wider area. If you live close to natural bushland areas or alongside livestock then think hard about what you introduce and cultivate in your private garden.

 

 

Please do not dump garden waste into our native bush and make sure you bag up loose corms or bulbs when disposing of garden waste. Declared pest management cost the entire community so do your part.

What shall I do if I see one?-

A list of the common bulb species found in our bushland can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Food website. If you see a bulb species out in bushland then use the MyWeedWatcher App to report it. You can also contact the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group for control information on declared pests.

fox and 1080 pest ejector

A New Method of Canid Pest Control

A new method of deploying 1080 for foxes and wild dogs is now available in WA.

The Canid Pest Ejectors (CPEs) are spring-activated baiting devices, with better target specificity and long-term use than conventional baits.

Cotton bush

Steep Learning Curve for New Property Owner

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group logo

 

 

 

 

In a short space of time Mike Donaghy and his wife, Kylie West have made incredible inroads controlling infestations of cotton bush and Apple of Sodom on their Brunswick property.

To demonstrate effective (and not so effective) methods of treating these declared weeds, Mr Donaghy will be hosting a field day on Wednesday, October 5, between 10am and 1pm.
 
“When we took on the property six months ago I was keen to get rid of cotton bush and Apple of Sodom to improve the productivity of the land. The infestations were so bad that grazing was severely inhibited.

With different advice on offer I decided to trial a range of chemical options, and also non-chemical methods.

The idea of a field day came to mind because I really want to fast-track other people’s control efforts by giving them the opportunity to see what has worked, and not worked for me”, Mr Donaghy said.
 
The field day will be supported by Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) and Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and is open to any person who has an interest in controlling declared weeds in the region.
 
Chairman of Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group, Vaughan Byrd extended his thanks all those landowners who have been treating their cotton bush and Apple of Sodom.

These two weeds spread so rapidly and we need a community effort to control them. We are grateful to Mike for holding this field day and I encourage landowners to come and learn about the most effective methods of treatment.

The field day will also show how a few untreated cotton bush plants can turn into a 40 hectare infestation within several years,” Mr Byrd said.

Register your interest to attend the field day with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group, by email info@peelharveybiosecurity.info. You will receive an information pack with directions to the property and an outline of the program, which will include an opportunity to chat over freshly made sandwiches. Children are welcome at this event.

The MedFly

Fruit fly underdone in homemade recipes-

Fruit fly is a major agricultural pest in Western Australia. Mediterranean fruit fly more commonly known as the Med Fly is a major problem for commercial orchardists and landholders.

Fruit fly attacks a large range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Historically, fruit fly was,  controlled with the use of a pesticide called Fenthion- this was controversially banned in 2015. Fenthion was used to reduce the effect of the Med Fly on WA growers while also providing a tool to prevent the insurgence of the Queesland Fruit Fly (also given a nickname, QFly).

The Qfly lands in Perth-

In late 2015, five Perth Suburbs were quarantined after eight QFly males were caught in surveillance traps. Costing the Department of Agriculture and Food hundreds of thousands of dollars the five affected suburbs were restricted in the movement of fresh fruits and vegetables until the all clear was given. Now Tasmania and South Australia are the only states to have the clear QFly status and the implications for trade with WA is still unknown.

This large output of energy and resources goes to show the seriousness of even a small outbreak of eight flies can be and the effort DAFWA puts into biosecurity to prevent the spread of pests.

Now that Fenthion has been banned in the control of fruit fly there are many different homemade recipes available to help landowners monitor and control fruit fly in their area.

Homemade traps for fruit fly control-

The simple traps below can be made with ingredients and equipment found easily in the home, check out everydayroots.com for more traps ideas.

Don’t forget to use the Pest App from DAFWA to ID any bugs caught!

 

 The Apple Cider Trap- Fruit flies can’t resist the smell of fermentation, and since apple cider vinegar is from fermented apples, it’s a dream drink to them. Heat the vinegar beforehand to release more of its irresistible fragrance.

fruit fly trap made from a paper funnel, jar and apple cider vinegar

This apple cider vinegar trap lure fruit flies in.

 

Equipment-

A mason jar or something similar, a funnel (you can make one yourself), ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, a drop of dish washing soap, and a piece of ripe or overripe fruit (optional).

Heat up the apple cider vinegar and pour into your jar. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to break up the surface of the liquid and prevent the flies from sitting on the surface. Roll up a piece of paper to make a funnel and place it in the top of the jar, the flies will follow the funnel down but won’t be able to find their way out and will drown. If you find the flies aren’t drowning you can place the whole trap in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until the flies have died.  You can either replicate the trap or continue to use the same one.

 

The Jar Type Trap- Use the fruit flies weakness to lure then in – fermenting fruit

fruit fly trap made from ripe fruit in a jar with plastic wrap with hols poked in.

Everyday kitchen items make a handy fruit fly trap.

Equipment- A glass jar, plastic wrap, a toothpick, some very ripe or overripe produce, and some soapy water.

Put your rotting and/or very ripe fruit in the bottom of a jar. Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap, secure with a rubber band, and poke holes in the plastic using a toothpick. Put the traps in places fruit flies are congregating and when the trap is full you can submerge in hot soapy water or place in the freezer.

Community responsibility in fruit fly control-

With the new restrictions on pesticides, growers are now at the mercy of good husbandry from landowners in the control of fruit fly. To help reduce fruit fly residents can remove ripening fruit and pick up fallen fruit around trees.

Don’t forget burying ripening fruit does not control fruit fly as the larvae can still emerge from the soil.

For more species or control information on the fruit fly visit the Department of Food and Agriculture website here.

Bush Rangers quiz PHBG on weeds

On the 31st May 2016 Jonelle Cleland , Executive Officer of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group, held a two hour weeds workshop at Waroona District High School with the Bushranger Cadets.

Bush Rangers WA is a youth-based conservation and community development program run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. It supports young Western Australians to take an active role in the conservation of the natural environment and better understand the mechanisms for its management.

Below are some of the questions asked by the Bush Rangers about weeds-

What are weeds and how did they get here?

The Australia Government defines a weed as:

A weed is any plant that requires some form of action to reduce its effect on the economy, the environment, human health and amenity. Weeds are also known as invasive plants. Many plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years are now weeds.

A weed can be an exotic species or a native species that colonises and persists in an ecosystem in which it did not previously exist. Weeds can inhabit all environments; from our towns and cities through to our oceans, deserts and alpine areas.Some weeds are of particular concern and, as a result, have been listed for priority management or in legislation.

How do you get rid of weeds?

Unfortunately there isn’t one recipe for weed control, how much easier would that make weed management! Luckily however there are lots of resources available that provides specific information on a weed you may be having trouble with. These include the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, Herbiguide, and of course your regional Biosecurity Group can answer your queries on weed control.

How do they spread?

Weeds typically produce large numbers of seeds, assisting their spread. They are often excellent at surviving and reproducing in disturbed environments and are commonly the first species to colonise and dominate in these conditions. There are lots of different ways plants use to help their seeds spread. Some plants use animals to move their seeds this is called animal dispersal. Seeds dispersed by animals are usually barbed or sticky and stick to an animal as it brushes past, or they are yummy so an animal eats them or stores them in their burrows. Other weeds use wind dispersal to spread, their seeds usually have wings or other hair or feather-like structures, and they produce lots of them. There are also plants that use water to move their seeds, these are mostly aquatic plants or plants that live near water.

Water Hyacinth, a declared weed, clogging up a waterway

Water hyacinth is one of the worlds worst aquatic seeds and can double its mass in five days. It spreads on water using floating seeds and growth from new stems called stolons.

Blackberry, a declared weed, growing on a hillside

The blackberry is a declared pest in WA and is spread through fruit eating mammals and birds. Each single berry can contain 20-30 seeds.

Cotton bush seeds are small and feathery

Cotton bush is a declared pest and spreads on the wind using its small feathery seeds.

 

How do they get their names?

A plants scientific name is made made up of its genus and specific name for example blackberry Rubus fruticosus– Rubus (genus) fruticosus (specific). A plants common name generally arises from the local name for that plant and can be descriptive. Some examples of common names include the blackberry, cotton bush, nut grass and onion weed.

Can they kill humans?

The short answer is yes some weeds are toxic to humans. Weeds, like many plants, can be poisonous when consumed or create allergic reactions when brushed up against. Some weeds are especially dangerous because they have brightly coloured berries that are attractive to young children. Many more weeds are toxic to livestock as they are more likely to consume them in the paddock or in hay if it is baled up in an infested area.

A short list of weeds that can be toxic include- apple of sodom, blackberry nightshade, cotton bush, deadly nightshade, thornapple, lantana, cape tulip, and arum lily.

The best way to find out if a plant on your property is a weed and/or toxic is to use the MyWeedWatcher App to I.D your weed and find out the weeds specifications and correct management options available.

There isn’t a way to tell from looking at a plant if its poisonous or not. Be on the safe side and wear long sleeves and pants if playing in weedy areas and don’t put them in your mouth!

How do you identify them?

There are lots of resources available in identifying weeds including the internet, books and now Apps!

Bush Rangers Quiz PHBG on weeds

DAFWA’s new MyWeedWatcher App can help you identify weeds.

How do you stop weeds from coming back?

There are some weeds that have seeds that can be viable for longer than 10 years, which means that one weed control application often wont be enough. Some weeds are best controlled using chemical methods, some can be controlled by mowing or slashing, some need to be physically removed or even burnt. The best ways to ensure success is to correctly identify your weed so you can control it in the most effective way, for example to effectively spray nut grass you must spray it before it forms its 6th leaf to ensure the chemical is taken into its underground node, that’s very specific!

Before commencing weed control its important to have a plan so you don’t waste time and money. The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group has a Weed Management Plan booklet that can help you plan out your weed control efforts in advance, find it here to download.

Bush Rangers quiz PHBG on weeds

 

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group was excited to host the workshop for the  at Waroona DHS Bush Rangers program and hope to work with them again in the future on protecting their local area from declared pests and weeds. If you would like more information on Bush Rangers WA then follow this link.

Pantry Blitz- Do you know what bugs you’re living with?

You are invited to take part in an exciting new citizen science activity to uncover the secret lives of the pests living inside your pantry cupboard. Register now for the Pantry Blitz!

Citizen Science- the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.

Participants will place a pest trap inside their pantry cupboard for one month and use the free reporting tool MyPestGuide to submit pest reports for identification. Participants must register to receive a free pest trap in the mail. Traps are placed inside the kitchen pantry then once a week for a month you send in your observations. This is a great activity for the kids (as well as adults) to learn about biosecurity and bugs! Recommended you register early for this fun activity as pest trap numbers are limited.

The data you collect will be used to keep Western Australia free from harmful exotic pests. Your reports can make a difference! When making a report you are in fact also helping to protect your local food producers, the people who manufacturer your food products and those employed to deliver and supply you with good quality foods.  So, partner up with the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA to help protect our food, environment and livelihoods from damaging pests by observing what’s in your household pantry and reporting what you see.

What sort of bugs are you looking for?

Pantry Blitz- Do you know what bugs you're living with?

Pantry Blitz – Watch out for the sweet potato weevil!

Of all the sweet potatoe pests this one is the worst!

The sweet potato weevil Cylas formicarius (Fabricius) causes damage in the field, in storage, and is of quarantine significance. It’s a pretty cool looking bug but can cause up to 97% damage where sweet potatoe is cultivated. Sometimes the first indication they are there is cutting open a sweet potatoe and finding tunnels and larvae. Recently a vigilant member of the community discovered this exotic pest after purchasing a bag of sweet potatoe from a local super market. The weevil was reported to the Department of Agriculture and Food via its biosecurity surveillance tool, MyPestGuide Reporter app (for the full story click here).

Pantry Blitz- Do you know what bugs you're living with?

Pantry Blitz – Keep a look out for the elephant weevil!

Watch the wine!

This cool looking bug  is commonly known as the elephant weevil, Orthorhinus cylindrirostris. In Australia they are considered a major pest to wine companies as it feeds on grape vines. It is a brown grey weevil with a long slender snout and long forelegs. When not at the winery the elephant weevil adults and larvae feed on eucalypts and a variety of other plants.

Register now!

You can make observations and send reports anytime using the ‘MyPestGuide” Reporter mobile app or via the online reporting webpage. Your reports will be received automatically by the MyPestGuide Team. Department of Agriculture and Food department experts will then identify the pests reported from your pantry, respond to each report and publish the community’s findings on the Pantry Blitz webpage. So don’t forget to keep checking to see your bugs on the webpage.

Rabbits: a costly pest

 Did you know that rabbits are Australian agriculture’s most costly pest animal? Annual costs exceed $200 million!

Pioneer Thomas Austin freed about a dozen rabbits on his property near Geelong, Victoria, in 1859 and by 1910 feral rabbits had covered  most of their present range. This spread was despite control efforts such as the Western Australian Government’s 1700 kilometer rabbit-proof fence, built between 1901 and 1907.

Were you aware that Australian native vegetation is very sensitive to rabbit damage? As few as 0.5 rabbits per hectare can remove all seedlings of the more palatable native trees and shrubs!

Rabbits have been attributed to the extinction of several small  ground-dwelling mammals in Australia’s arid lands and have contributed to the decline of many native plants and animals.

National Rabbit Roadshow

Attendees at the National Rabbit Roadshow

Attendees at the National Rabbit Roadshow hosted by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group.

People attending the National Rabbit Roadshow were highly impressed by the evidence presented by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and Victoria’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries. It was shown that methods for removing rabbits are generally well researched.

Poisoning, warren ripping and fumigation (when used in combination, rather than as a single treatment) can effectively control, and can even eradicate, the animal. This is particularly so when the methods are used at the right time of year to maximise their effectiveness.

Local landholder and Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group vice chair, Marion Lofthouse, left the event with a new perspective on rabbit control.

“I didn’t realise that an initial up-front investment in rabbit control, using a combination of methods, could provide a sustained effect over many, many years,” Mrs Lofthouse said. ‘Doing the job properly in the first place makes rabbit control a cost-effective farm practice in the longer term.”

Rabbits and their control

The rabbit- a declared pest.

The rabbit- a declared pest.

Are you interested in controlling rabbits on your own property? Perhaps you would prefer getting a group of landholders together for landscape-scale control?

Either way, get in touch with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group at info@peelharveybiosecurity.info. We can provide you with updates in this space, including the rollout of the bio-control agent, RHDV1 K5 across Australia.

 

Click here for more information.