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Boxthorn a growing concern, control it now

Boxthorn a growing concern, control it now

African Boxthorn has invaded large areas of Swan Hill Rural City Council, on both public land and private properties.

It is regarded as one of Australia’s worst weeds and is also classed as a weed of national significance.

The spread of this noxious weed has a financial impact on agricultural and horticultural industries, by reducing the area of productive land and by harbouring pests that reduce productivity.

Swan Hill Rural City Council Director Development and Planning Heather Green said all property owners had a legal responsibility to control Boxthorn on their property.

“This weed does an incredible amount of damage to our native animals and land,” Ms Green said.

“Dense infestations can out-compete native plants and farming land, creating environmental impact and loss of income.

“It aggressively invades pasture, reduces a property’s stock-carrying capacity and provides a breeding place for several pests including Queensland fruit fly and the European rabbit.”

Ms Green added that although germination of Boxthorn seed could occur throughout the year, aggressive growth was usually observed during spring.

“This is the time of year we need to act to minimise the weed and the damage it can cause,” she said.

“Boxthorn control needs to be planned, co-ordinated with neighbours and include monitoring and follow up. Long term effective control requires the integration of a number of methods.

“But with a united approach, we can try to halt the spread of Boxthorn and reclaim some areas.”

Council is working with Landcare on Boxthorn control programs including those on the Woorinen-Goschen Road to Swan Hill-Sea Lake Road, and in the Nyah West district and Waitchie district.

Other areas will be investigated for Boxthorn control according to need.

For more information about African Boxthorn, contact Swan Hill Rural City Council’s Senior Environmental Officer Sam Steel on (03) 5036 2320.

Boxthorn control options

Chemical removal

There are a variety of herbicides available for use on African Boxthorn when plants are actively growing.

The active growing season is during spring, usually September, when the leaves are bright green and before the plant has a chance to flower and set seed.  Outside this window, foliage spraying has limited or no effect.

African Boxthorn can be effectively controlled all year round by cutting the plant off at the base and painting the stump with herbicide. Once the plant is cut it must be immediately treated with chemical to be effective.

Mechanical removal

It is possible to use a tractor and blade as an immediate way of cleaning up unsightly Boxthorn infestations. Large scale mechanical removal can be undertaken by contractors.

Stacks should be burned according to fire restriction policies. It is highly likely there will be regrowth at plant locations. Continue to remove or chemically treat new growth until plants eventually give up.

Please contact your local garden centre or chemical stockist for advice on herbicide use or for contractors available in your area.

With all control methods, following up on the seed bank and any reshoot from root stock is critical to long term control success.