Big event coming up next Friday the 7th of February at the Boolarra Memorial Hall. The Victorian Blackberry Taskforce Roadshow is coming to town and is a great opportunity for landholders in the Latrobe Valley and surrounding areas to get the latest on Blackberry control along with other weeds. The day included guest speakers and demonstrators from Chemical Companies (Dow and DuPont), DEPI, Victorian Blackberry Taskforce and a presentation on Biological Control.
Blackberry is one of the worst weeds in our district particularly in terms of its environmental impact, with its tendency to out-compete and choke native vegetation, and reduce habitat quality for native animals (e.g. restrict the movement of Koalas) . By law all landholders are required to make reasonable efforts to keep Blackberries under control. Where blackberries can be readily accessed conventional methods such as spraying with herbicides are still the recommended way to keep Blackberries in check.
The development and release several years ago of new strains of Blackberry Leaf Rust may work as an additional tool to help the overall battle against this weed. It is hoped that these new strains are more vigorous and have more of a negative impact on Blackberry growth. Blackberry Leaf Rust spreads by spores which are carried in the wind and it is thought that they can spread long distances. Their ability to spread should mean that after the initial introduction they should disperse out by themselves into sites that have suitable conditions for their growth. (It is impossible to tell by sight whether or not the rust you are looking at are the new strains of rust or the original ones).
Blackberry rust mainly impacts on fresh new growth and has less impact on older canes and leaves. The rust can cause leaves on new growth to curl up and die, preventing the tips of new stems from taking root and spreading. The damage the rust does to the plant can seem spectacular but it may take many years of repeated rust attacks to have a real impact on the Blackberry spread. There is hope however that the in the longer term the impact of the rust on the blackberry foliage can allow more opportunity for native plants to grow and re-establish in areas where Blackberry is currently thriving.
The rust is not tolerant of drought or hot dry conditions, sites where the rust does best tend to be higher rainfall areas (e.g > 750mm per annum) that have part shade and protection from drying winds. It will also persist better in sites that have larger infestations of Blackberry, meaning that where smaller patches exist every effort should be make to remove them by other methods. The best time to see the impact that rust may be having on your site is early autumn.
Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group – Has a new direction.
The Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group (CGWWAG) is now in its third year and is continuing the community driven battle against Blackberry and other woody weeds such as Gorse and Broom. Initially formed as part of bushfire recovery based efforts to get on top of returning weeds, the group is expanding its reach to surrounding areas and aims to be a support network for landholders facing the task of managing invasive weeds on their properties. The group’s operations are based on the Community Weed Model which has been used successfully in Victoria to control Serrated Tussock, Gorse and Ragwort.
The aim of the group is to reduce the growth and spread of blackberry on private land, and also on public/private land boundaries, by working together with all land managers to implement appropriate control measures. To achieve this we are seeking to connect with landholders to help us identify infestations in your area, to let us know if you have a successful control program on your property or to discuss difficulties you may have.
Ian Ewart the groups Chair says that “Landholders can follow their neighbours and sign up for a voluntary three-year agreement, where they agree to take certain actions to manage Blackberry on their properties, if everyone agrees to do their bit we can ease the on-going negative impacts that the spread of these weeds have. We aim to find ways to assist people to do this in any way we can.”
David Akers has been engaged as Project Officer and is keen to hear from landholders in the group’s focus area, which is the northern part of the Strzelecki Ranges between Callignee and Boolarra. David will focus on touching base with the many landholders who have already taken up Management Agreements and done works to control Blackberry to date. He is also keen to work with people who are keen to join in and do their bit to control weeds in their neighbourhood.
Blackberry is a noxious weed that is a major threat to both agricultural production and the natural environment. Immediate control is imperative to achieve the community’s desire for long term, permanent control of this plant in the Central Gippsland Area.
A weed workshop was recently held at the Callignee Hall where participants were treated to a BBQ meal followed by presentations from Latrobe Landcare Network Co-ordinator Peter Newgreen and Bob Wilson from the Department of Primary Industries.
Key messages on the night included the following tips
Weeds have a number of adverse affects on a range of things including, productivity, stock health, impact on native flora and fauna.
It is vitally important to be able to identify the weed you are a dealing with and know about its life cycle.
Annual species will only last one season, new plants will only grow by seed. They key to their control is to stop the plants producing and releasing seed.
When Perennial plants die off on top, they may still have a healthy root system that is likely to re-sprout. To control them you need to kill the whole plant.
Some species can reproduce vegetatively (e.g by fragments of stem, root or leaf) ploughing in or slashing these species can drastically increase their spread.
Learing some basic information about plant classification can make it easier to identify weeds. Certain features of a plant can you quickly narrow down the possibilities of what the exact species of weed could be.
The best way to control weeds is to stop them becoming established in the first place. Key sites to check for new infestations are along watercourses and drainage lines, as well as sites where introduced fodder has been spread, along roadways and traffic areas and around stock camps.
Integrated Pest Management – (Where a variety of actions are taken to control a weed. e.g use a variety of types of suitable herbicides, good pasture management etc are undertaken) is vital otherwise weeds are likely to become resistant to your control method.
People tend to notice weeds that are Yellow (e.g. Ragwort) or Purple (e.g. Pattersons Curse) but they don’t pay enough attention to grasses. People need to be vigilant for serious weeds such as Serrated Tussock and African Love Grass.
Identification of weeds can be difficult, especially as some features used for identification of the plants are not always present e.g flowers/seed pods. If in doubt samples can be taken in to your local DPI office.
The worst established weeds in the district are Blackberry, Ragwort and there are some patches of Patterson’s Curse. Worst areas for weeds tend to be along watercourses and gullies.
There is a need for an ongoing education campaign for landholders especially ones that are new to the area and are not aware of the implications of allowing weeds on their property to continue to spread. Landcare can play a big part in this.
The key to protecting our unique Koala population and ensuring their long term future is to ensure that they have high quality habitat to live in. Koalas need to be able to find regular food and young need to be able to safely disperse to new areas and find breeding partners. The key things that the community can do is to protect existing habitat, this includes controlling weeds such as Blackberries that Koalas are unable to move through. Gullies and Riparian areas are particularly important areas for Koalas, especially in summer, because they are cooler and the leaves there have higher moisture content. The other thing to do is improve it by extending it and linking it to other suitable habitat nearby.
In the region Hancock Plantations (HVP) manage a large area of Koala habitat. They have strategies in place designed to better understand and protect the Koala populations and are open to working with community members on projects such as Koala habitat linkages. They have been involved in work to map the Koala habitat across the region on the land they manage. Studies have shown locally the preferred trees for Koalas are Mountain Grey Gum (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa), Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), vegetation that is dominated by these species is classed as “Primary Koala Habitat“.
However all indigenous Eucalypt species in this district have been shown to provide Koala food and habitat. Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests as well as Yertchuk (E. consideniana), Messmate (E. obliqua) and Apple Box (Eucalyptus bridgesiana) are classed as “Secondary Species” so are still very important habitat areas.
Narrow Leaf Peppermint (E. radiata/croajingolensis) and Swamp Gum (E. ovata) are classed as supplementary species, and are also known to support Koalas.
Planning to get the most efficient use of your weed control resources following a busfire is vital. Here are some tips.
Target species that are likely to remain a major problem even when your bushland and pastures have recovered. e.g. Blackberries and Ragwort. Annual weeds like milk thistles and capeweed should not be a significant issue down the track as they are shaded out and outcompeted by native vegetation growth or well managed pastures.
The first priority for best use of your time and resources should be to maintain your areas that are free of your target species or have the lowest infestations of weeds. i.e. This should mean these areas remain easy to manage and do not become a problem area in the future.
Working to reduce the cover of larger infestations needs to be done stratetigically. Make a plan and work away at the edges of the affected sites over time.
Avoid ground disturbance as much as possible as this will create ideal opportunites for further weed infestations to occur.
Consider planting problem sites like gullies and waterways with native vegetation that will eventually provide competition and outgrow the weeds. Seek advice from Landcare about funding opportunites for projects and for information on what species to grow.
Mapping the weeds you need to control (A GPS can help with this) can help when planning your weed management as well as way to monitor your progress. You could also set up photopoints to get a visual record of how your weed management is progressing.
Prevention is better than the cure – Monitor carefully for new outbreaks of weeds especially in places such as, stock camps, drainage lines and sites where introduced fodder has been spread.