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.
The Callignee/Traralgon South Landcare Group’s spray unit is available for anyone in the district to borrow for weed control purposes. It has a 400 litre tank and two spray hoses that have a reach of about 70m. Get in now and spray your Blackberry and other weeds this year, for more information about borrowing the spray unit or if you want advice on Blackberry and woody weed control, contact the Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group (CGWWAG)