Velvetleaf found in horticultural crop

22 December 2021

A photo of velvetleef seedlings in a melon crop.

A photo of velvetleef seedlings in a melon crop. Photo credit: Courtesy of Sally Linton.

Velvetleaf, an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act, is a weed that can drop as many as 30,000 seeds and compete against crops for precious nutrients. What can be a small problem in the first season quickly becomes a much bigger problem next season if left unchecked.

Velvetleaf has recently been found in a melon crop in Auckland. The land was a new horticultural area that had historically been in maize, which is when the incursion occurred. This melon crop will now require intensive management to control the velvetleaf.

Growers should be particularly careful when using maize as a rotational crop as the harvesting machinery can inadvertently bring velvetleaf seed on to the property. Ensuring all machinery that comes onto a property is clean will help to prevent the spread of weeds, including velvetleaf.

It is also important when going to new areas to know the land history as velvetleaf seeds can remain dormant in soils, especially those in pasture, and will germinate when cultivation occurs.

Velvetleaf has been found throughout New Zealand and is potentially in any crop. However, the Auckland and Waikato areas where significant amounts of maize are grown are of key concern.

If you think you have found velvetleaf, please take a photo and call it in on 0800 80 99 66 or log through the Find a Pest app.

Sally Linton, Velvetleaf Community Outreach North Island, can help with questions and can offer growers support.  Sally is on mobile 027 278 1620 or email