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Weeds Projects - Tropical Soda Apple

North Coast Local Land Services is working with a range of partners in a Joint Task Force to tackle a newly emerging Class 1 weed with the potential to cause millions of dollars of impact in lost production to graziers and croppers through New South Wales and Southern Queensland.

The joint task force members include North Coast Local Land Services, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industries, seven north coast local councils (Coffs Harbour, Clarence Valley, Bellingen, Kempsey, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Taree) and local weed control authorities (Mid North & Far North Coast Weeds, New England Weed Authority).

Tropical soda apple plantTropical Soda Apple is a thorny, rapid growing, fruiting and reproducing weed which is native to north eastern Argentina, south eastern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and has become wide spread throughout Florida and the USA.  In Florida, it has infested vast areas of open and vegetated land and within eight years from first detection it spread to over 500,000 hectares of arable land. Currently Tropical Soda Apple is widespread throughout nine states in southern USA and has been aptly named "the plant from hell".

In 2010, Tropical Soda Apple was identified in the Macleay Valley in the Kempsey local government area and since then isolated infestations have emerged across the North Coast and Northern Tablelands of NSW. Ongoing efforts by Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industries and Local Control Authorities to identify and control outbreaks have helped minimise expansion of known infestations.

Greater awareness of the weed and proper hygiene are needed by landholders to prevent its further spread and emergence into new areas due to livestock movement – a major factor in the spread of the weed.

Since the first detection of Tropical Soda Apple in NSW, North Coast Local Land Services has been building on early research undertaken by Department of Primary Industries into stock movements in an effort to identify new outbreaks.  This investigation has involved several traces of all cattle movement from properties with moderate to high infestations of Tropical Soda Apple using unique Property Identification Codes (PICs) and the National Livestock Identification System. This information supports Local Control Authorities to strategically locate and eradicate the weed.

Under-reporting of Tropical Soda Apple sightings by landholders has been a major challenge in determining the distribution of this aggressive weed. Landholders are urged to immediately report any unusual weeds to their Local Control Authority or North Coast Local Land Services.

As a 'Class 1' weed, it is the responsibility of landholders to report occurrences of this weed within 24 hours of detection.  Landholders should avoid attempting to control it without further advice as spraying with herbicide can still allow Tropical Soda Apple fruits to ripen and seeds to germinate. When moving stock or buying stock from a suspected Tropical Soda Apple area, it is recommended to isolate cattle for a minimum of three days in a separate holding paddock to prevent spread.

For further information on the Tropical Soda Apple initiative, contact Jai Sleeman at North Coast Local Land Services on 02 6623 3917.