WA Government unveils updated guide to tackling skeleton weed on farms

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Bob GarnantCountryman
DPIRD biosecurity officer Carla Tassone and administration officer Heather Staphorst, based at Narrogin, with the latest issue of the Skeleton Weed in WA.
Camera IconDPIRD biosecurity officer Carla Tassone and administration officer Heather Staphorst, based at Narrogin, with the latest issue of the Skeleton Weed in WA. Credit: DPIRD/DPIRD

Farmers facing an uphill battle controlling skeleton weed infestations can now refer to an updated guide released by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

DPIRD program manager Martin Atwell said the changes ensured growers had the latest information to combat the serious weed, which could reduce crop yields by competing for moisture and nitrogen.

“This management guide aims to increase the capacity of landholders to manage and eradicate skeleton weed infestations on their properties and to prevent further spread within the State,” he said.

“It includes information on weed identification and reporting, known distribution maps, treatments for infested paddocks and compliance requirements.

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“A key update includes new herbicide recommendations for control in crops and legume-based annuals during winter.”

Mr Atwell said the guide included a full list of trade names of products available for skeleton weed control and had an eradication treatment section for organic properties, plantations and urban properties.

“DPIRD, in conjunction with Local Action Group, delivers the skeleton weed program backed by the grower-funded Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Funding Scheme,” he said.

“Without a co-ordinated program aimed at controlling spread, skeleton weed would now be much more abundant and widely established throughout the cereal growing areas.

“Our extensive annual surveillance program is under way and we encourage growers to regularly monitor their paddocks over summer, when plants are actively flowering and setting seed.”

Skeleton weed has upright and usually leafless stems which give the appearance of the skeleton of a plant.

It is most recognisable when flowering during summer and autumn, when it has distinctive bright yellow daisy flowers.

With a 2m taproot and lateral roots reaching up to 20m, it can spread rapidly, particularly in root fragments dragged along by seeding equipment.

Its expansive root system means it takes four years for an area which once hosted the weed, to be officially declared free of it.

Copies of Skeleton Weed in WA: Management Guide and Control Program are available from local DPIRD offices or Local Action Groups, or email skeletonweedprogram@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Electronic copies can be accessed at the DPIRD website at agric.wa.gov.au/skeletonweed.

Any suspicious plants should be reported using the MyPestGuide Reporter app or the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on 9368 3080 or padis@dpird.wa.gov.au.

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