Red witchweed report shows progress in Mackay

News release | 12-Apr-2017

A preliminary report looking at the efficacy of treatment for red witchweed infestations shows promising results are being made.

Red witchweed was first discovered in Mackay in 2013 with eight properties found to have infestations.

Project Manager for the Red Witchweed National Eradication Program, Peter Austin, said the treatments his team are carrying out on the infected properties are proving to be effective in controlling the pest weed.

“The eradication program consists of a range of treatment methods, including planting ‘false crops’ and soil fumigation, as well as comprehensive surveillance,” Mr Austin said.

“The false crop we are using is soybean as it acts as a host and triggers germination of red witchweed seeds but doesn’t let the seeds attach to the roots. This reduces the number of seeds in the soil as they die and can’t germinate.

“We also plant corn crop intermittently throughout the area to find out if red witchweed is present as corn is a true host of the weed,” he said.

“In Autumn we fumigate the soil by injecting ethylene gas into the soil to destroy red witchweed seed. The gas also initiates germination of any seeds that are in a pre-conditioned state. A second soil fumigation is then applied to smaller areas using Dazomet in winter.

“The preliminary report which looks at the first year and a half of treatment verifies that these treatments are working to effectively control red witchweed in the Mackay area which means we are on our way towards eradication,” Mr Austin said.

Biosecurity Queensland would like to remind residents in the Mackay region to remain vigilant and report any suspected sightings of red witchweed immediately on 13 25 23.

For more information on red witchweed visit or call 13 25 23.

Media contact: Suellen Hinde, 3087 8577