The first velvetleaf of the season has been found in Otago and a Teviot Valley farmer is being praised for his vigilance in reporting it to the authorities.

The discovery of the 1m-high plant next to a fodder beet crop on the Teviot Valley property last week highlights the need for all landowners in the region to be on the lookout for the pest plant, the Otago Regional Council says.

Council director environmental monitoring and operations Scott MacLean praised the farmer for contacting an ORC contractor and said the plant was swiftly removed and destroyed.

The plant could have germinated from last year's contaminated seed, which was distributed widely throughout Otago, Mr MacLean said.


The discovery underlined the importance heading into a new fodder beet season of landowners increasing their surveillance and being vigilant for the potential appearance of the pest plant.

The ORC was undertaking the preparation of farm management plans for all those affected last year to guard against a possible recurrence of the infestation of their crops and it was important those farmers worked with the contractor to complete the plans and thoroughly implement them, he said.

Mr MacLean urged Otago farmers on properties where velvetleaf plants had been removed from fodder beet crops to be vigilant, because it was suspected in a small number of cases that seeds may have dropped from the plants before they were removed last year.

Mr MacLean said the ORC and MPI would provide ongoing education and support for farmers, but the onus was on them to do their own monitoring and reporting.