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MPI finds velvetleaf seed in imported radish seed

Advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Velvetleaf Management Programme Steering Group

A low-level velvetleaf contamination was found as part of MPI’s standard border inspection of four imported radish seed lines. Affected lines have either been returned to the country of origin or had the velvetleaf seed dressed out. Lines that were dressed out were re-sampled and inspected before receiving biosecurity clearance. However, radish seed growers sowing imported seed are being encouraged to take a precautionary approach and watch their crops this season for any signs of velvetleaf.

MPI reports that its seed importation and inspection process is one of the most rigorous in the world, and that the risk associated with these imported seed lines is no higher than in any other year. However, they also note that it is never possible to achieve zero risk. This means a reality of trade is that there is always a chance contaminant seeds occur at very low levels – this is true for every consignment released at the border, every day of the year.

The recent interceptions are a timely reminder that all parts of the biosecurity system are important, including post-border surveillance. We wish to remind growers and contractors that they play a critical role in the post-border part of the biosecurity system, because they can contribute to general surveillance, and can operate good biosecurity practice. In particular, they can keep an eye out for velvetleaf and any other seed or weed that looks unusual.

We recommend you:

  • Carry out careful on-farm checks of crops and paddocks and keep an eye out for velvetleaf.
  • Work closely with merchant agronomists, seed reps and crop inspectors to monitor your crops.
  • Take photos and report any suspected sightings of velvetleaf to MPI on 0800 80 99 66. You’ll receive support and advice on the next steps to take.
  • Protect your property by making sure all machinery entering and leaving your farm is free of contaminants.
  • This includes paying attention to all harvesting equipment, visitors’ vehicles and footwear hygiene.
  • You can follow the guidelines set out by the Keep it Clean Machinery Hygiene Guidelines and Logbook. Full information about velvetleaf is at: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/velvetleaf

Velvetleaf Management Programme Steering Group members:

  • Biosecurity New Zealand
  • Federated Farmers
  • Foundation for Arable Research
  • Beef + Lamb New Zealand
  • DairyNZ
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Rural Contractors New Zealand
  • NZGSTA