Local Land Services among the actors affected by the spread of St. John’s wort | Earth

It’s the yellow flower that appears in paddocks across the state and while it may look attractive and harmless to the untrained eye, it wreaks havoc on growers.

The Class 4 noxious weed in question is St. John’s Wort and it is currently enjoying stellar growing conditions in several parts of the state, including the Northern Plateaus, Central Plateaus, and Midwest.

Recent flooding is the main cause for the spread of the weed and is carried by native and wild animals.

Jodie Lawler, regional weed coordinator for West Central Local Land Services (LLS), said councils across the region regularly report new weed incursions.

“Unfortunately flood waters often spread weeds to new areas and the rains and mild weather we had meant that many weeds flowered much longer and grew prolifically,” Ms Lawler said.

“Weddin Shire Council has reported an increase in silver nightshade and Parkes Shire Council is seeing further incursions of noogoora burr.

“The Bogan Shire Council can see the tiger pear and mother of millions being a problem after the wet year, and the Forbes Shire Council is on the lookout for the chile needle.”

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Such is the impact St Johns Wort is having, a group of several Coolah growers have banded together to fund aerial spraying of parts of the area.

“This is one of the worst years for woody weeds like wort,” said Coolah Pest Management Group President Doug Arnott.

“People are seeing weeds in places they’ve never seen before. We’ve had to invest in helicopter spraying to keep it at a level that doesn’t hamper our operations too much.”

Callen Thompson, Joint Agricultural Adviser for the Central West LLS, urged primary growers to watch out for new weed incursions, especially along waterways and areas affected by floodwaters.

“A lot of land managers are trying very hard to get weeds out right now, which is really important,” Thompson said.

“We urge people to report anything they have not seen before to their local council weed officer for advice on control options.

“Consider prioritizing control over high-value, high-risk areas.

“If you’ve had large outbreaks, try to target areas of high environmental or production value.

“We also recommend treating areas where continuous control will be difficult.

“For example, controlling small incursions into rugged, hilly areas can be effective, while controlling dense populations in such areas can be costly, time-consuming and very difficult.”

Phil Thompson, The Cliffs Australian White Stud, Molong, said all growers should be aware of the devastating impact St. John’s wort could have on livestock as well as crop production.

“We worked really hard to spray points and that sort of thing, which helped get him out of our home, but now we’re keeping a close eye to make sure he doesn’t come back,” Mr Thompson said. ..

“What we’ve seen from the sheep’s perspective is that if the ewes eat it, it will go through their milk and affect the lambs as well.

“I’ve only encountered photosensitivity once in my life and I’m 66, so it’s pretty rare, but when it does happen the impacts are frankly gross.

“Essentially their faces swell from photosensitivity, their ears cauliflower and by the time you see that happening it’s too late and their faces are peeling off like the worst case of sunburn you’ve ever seen.

“I think part of it comes down to a lack of understanding of the damage this weed does, while the other big reason for the spread is just inaction.”

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Gregory M. Roy