Our Nelson/Marlborough Regional Coordinator Annette Litherland is working with Marlborough District Council and the farmer-led ‘Chilean Needle Grass Action Group’ to engage farmers and assist with creating a strategy to control Chilean Needle Grass.

The council is seeking to develop a 20-year strategy which outlines the extent of the Chilean Needle Grass issue, identifies farmers goals, and sets out a series of practical steps to control and manage this invasive pest plant.

The seeds of Chilean Needle Grass can cause significant damage to stock courtesy of a needle sharp tip and a tail mechanism that allows it to drill through fleece and into muscle. As a result highly contaminated fleeces are virtually worthless and animal carcasses are downgraded because they require additional trimming to remove damaged meat. Sheep from Chilean Needle Grass properties can only be sold to the works.

Chilean Needle Grass is an erect, tufted perennial tussock that can grow up to one metre in height when left ungrazed. It produces seeds from three points on the plant: the panicle seed, mid-stem seed at leaf joins and at the base of the plant. Panicle seed is the most obvious and is usually present November-January and, when conditions are suitable, March-May.