Feast your eyes on what is possibly the worst ragwort infestation in all of South Gippsland/Bass Coast. This property, located along Loch-Wonthaggi Road, is crawling with the invasive weed. G040615
THE hills are alive…..with the scourge of ragwort!
The weed is poisonous to grazing animals, both when fresh and dried in fodder.
It causes cumulative liver damage leading to photosensitisation, jaundice, wasting and sometimes death in animals.
The Sentinel-Times’ ‘Dob in a ragwort crop’ campaign is off to a strong start, with several readers informing the newspaper of a monstrous infestation clearly visible from Loch-Wonthaggi Road.
Those who’ve spotted it will already know it’s hard to miss – several hillsides on this private property are completely covered with the invasive weed.
One reader, who asked not to be named, described the infestation as “absolutely disgusting”.
“As soon as you come around the bend it just smacks you in the face – all you see is yellow,” the woman said.
“I’m a farmer and this just makes me really angry.”
The Sentinel-Times asked the relevant land authority whether the owner of the ragwort-ridden property had been sent any directions notices or had been fined.
“I am not able to respond regarding the specifics of any individual properties or contact we may have had with landholders,” Scott McArdle from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) explained.
“All land holders have a responsibility to control ragwort on their property.
“Biosecurity officers actively respond to concerns raised with the department regarding infestations of ragwort.”
Mr McArdle said ragwort is actively flowering and highly visible at this time of year.
“The Department encourages landholders who may have ragwort on their property to undertake control measures prior to the plants setting seed.
“Further advice on the control of ragwort and other weed species is available on the department’s website.”
Mr McArdle added that fines for landowners who fail to control noxious weeds can range up $36,000.
A small property on Shellcotts Road at Korumburra is full of ragwort, blackberries and docks.
Neighbours of that property are furious.
They say despite several personal requests to the owner for the weeds to be treated, nothing has been done.
“I’m glad you’re here,” said one of the residents when the Sentinel-Times arrived to take photos.
“This is disgraceful. The owner should be ashamed, but she doesn’t seem to care.”
Matt Stephenson, community pest and plant officer with Bass Coast Landcare Network (BCLN), said ragwort had re-emerged in recent years as a significant problem.
“It poses a considerable risk to public and private landowners throughout the district,” he said.
“It’s considered to be one of the most invasive plants in the area and BCLN and affiliated groups would encourage landholders with concerns to contact us on 5678 2335.”
Mr Stephenson, who is also president of the Weed Society of Victoria, noted that ragwort seeds are highly dispersible by wind and also have the potential to be spread via roadside maintenance works and hay sourced from afflicted properties.
Ragwort flowers are bright yellow with daisy-like heads in large clusters at the ends of branches.
Flowering stalks develop later in spring and summer, with peak flowering from late January through to March. Odd plants may flower at any time. Plants turn brown and die after seed set.
Dairy cattle forced to graze ragwort produce tainted milk.
Ragwort is a major pasture weed particularly on land grazed by cattle and horses and on dairy farms.
It produces dense foliage close to the ground which suppresses and prevents regeneration of other vegetation.
Ragwort competes strongly with more desirable plants, reducing pasture productivity and the value of agricultural land.
Readers aware of other ragwort ‘crops’ in the region are encouraged to email location details and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org