Now’s the time to control serrated tussock

By Rodney Woods

Winter and early spring are the best times to identify and control one of the state’s most devastating weeds, serrated tussock.

Agriculture Victoria biosecurity officer Sarah Franks said the weed was often mistaken for native spear grasses.

“Winter is the ideal time to identify and control serrated tussock prior to the plant seeding in spring," she said.

“Serrated tussock will often stand out from the rest of the pasture as it will be greener and taller.”

There are six key ways to identify serrated tussock:

- The leaves roll smoothly like a needle between your finger and thumb, whereas most native species feel like they have flat edges;

- The leaves feel serrated when rubbed from the leaf tip to the base of the plant;

- The plant still appears green, while other native plants may have died off;

- The leaves may bleach to a pale yellow in winter;

- The leaves are white at the base; and

- The plant has a white hairless ligule (thin outgrowth) found at the junction of the leaf blade and sheath, whereas native species have a hairy ligule.

“Early identification of and action on serrated tussock reduces time spent locating and managing plants, and provides more productive grasses an opportunity to out-compete the weed ... ensuring better and safer grazing for livestock," Ms Franks said.

“Livestock are unable to digest the plant due to its high fibre and low protein content, resulting in a loss of condition and in extreme cases starvation.

“Mature plants can produce more than 100,000 seeds, which can be dispersed up to 20km away by wind, wool, clothing, water, machinery and other vehicles, or as contaminants in hay and fodder.

“Spot spraying with a registered herbicide or manual removal are two useful options for controlling light to medium infestations.”

If you suspect you may have found serrated tussock or for more information on serrated tussock and its identification and management, visit Agriculture Victoria's website or call the Customer Contact Centre on 136 186.