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Silverleaf nighshade rears its ugly head at Cowra

After recent rain now is the ideal time for herbicide control!

Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) has reared its ugly head again in the Cowra district, costing thousands of dollars in lost income and additional expense for farmers.

Silverleaf nightshade is a deep rooted, summer active perennial closely related to horticultural crops such as tomatoes and eggplants.  It is considered one of the worst weeds in NSW because its extensive root system rapidly competes with crops and pastures for moisture and nutrients, resulting in dramatic losses in farm production.

In an effort to tackle the problem more than 20 people took part in an on-farm weed control demonstration and paddock walk on a property on Darby’s Falls Road at Cowra last week, hosted by Central Tablelands Local Land Services.

“Landholders new to the district and others who are long time locals, came along to share their experiences in controlling this perennial noxious weed,” said Phil Cranney, Senior Land Services Officer for Pastures.

“Higher than average rainfall in January has spurred on the spread of Silverleaf Nightshade in this largely mixed farming area east of Cowra.  We’ve seen a change in weather patterns with below average spring rain in October and November, followed by more summer rainfall.”

“Cool season perennial pastures struggle during a dry spring, making them less able to out compete summer growing weeds like Silverleaf Nightshade and Blue Heliotrope which thrive in these conditions and are increasing their spread and resilience.”

Central Tablelands Local Land Services has been conducting herbicide trials on the Cowra demonstration site.

“While it is too early to tell from the first spray applied on the 15th December last year, we look forward to inspecting the same paddock in 2017 to hopefully see a significant reduction in the number of plants per square metre,” said Phil.

“Meanwhile, recent rain makes this an ideal time to apply herbicide to weeds such as Silverleaf Nightshade.  Following rainfall growing plants absorb chemical more rapidly increasing the likelihood of a kill.”

Bob Thompson, former NSW DPI agronomist from West Wyalong, took part in the Cowra demonstration day, and shared the results from trials he conducted several years ago in an area with a similar climate to Cowra.

Mr Thompson encouraged farmers to try sub-tropical grasses like rhodes grass or premier digit to compete with summer growing perennial noxious weeds.

With funding from the National Landcare program, Phil Cranney is also investigating sub-tropical grasses in a small plot trial to control Blue Heliotrope.

“Katambora rhodes grass and premier digit grass are competing very well with the Blue Heliotrope this year, but it’s too early to draw significant conclusions after only six months of a demonstration trial,” said Phil.

“Many experienced landholders have been keeping Silverleaf Nightshade at bay and the Cowra Council is doing a great job controlling the weed on crown land and road ways.”

“However there are also many new landholders in the district who are looking for more information about the best control methods, and Local Land Services can provide free advice and assistance.”

For more information about pastures and sub tropical grasses that can compete with noxious weeds, contact Phil Cranney at Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 63637888.02 6363 78

Contact your local commercial agronomist for advice about herbicide control of Silverleaf Nightshade, Blue Heliotrope, and other noxious weeds, and only apply herbicides according to the label recommendations.

For correct identification of noxious weeds and notification of noxious weeds in your area, contact Cowra Council Noxious Weeds Supervisor, Kevin Nelligan on 0427629237.

Media enquiries: Kylie Krause | 0439608370