Review reveals successful suppression of skeleton weed

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A recent independent review of the industry-funded Skeleton Weed Program has found the program has significantly suppressed the spread of the weed in Western Australia, minimising potential impacts on grain production.

The review, which was commissioned by the Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Funding Scheme (IFS), looked at the effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness of the Skeleton Weed Program.

Grains, Seeds and Hay IFS management committee chair Rohan Day said the Skeleton Weed Program was funded by WA grain, seed and hay growers.

“It is essential that we have a clear understanding of whether the program is delivering value to the industry for this substantial investment,” Mr Day said.

The review found that, although skeleton weed has slowly spread in the wheatbelt over the last few decades, the total number of hectares of infested farmland is low, at approximately 5260 hectares, and infestations are generally well below levels that affect crop production.

The review highlighted that an area of up to 265,000 hectares may become infested without a coordinated Skeleton Weed Program that facilitates weed surveillance, containment and property-level eradication.

The program is delivered by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

“An important finding from the review was the vast differences in opinion amongst the industry with regard to the value of the program,” Mr Day said.

“The Management Committee will be concentrating on industry communications to help increase grower understanding of the weed and program.”

“We will also investigate strategic research areas, particularly around surveillance and control methods, as this is a key to improving efficiencies.”

The full Skeleton Weed Program Review report is available on the department website.

The department provides executive support to the Grains, Seeds and Hay IFS.

Learn more about fall armyworm Southern Australian Department of Primary Industries and regional Development.

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