THE SHARP END
By EMMA CORNFORD
A THORN-COVERED weed capable of puncturing tractor tyres will cause a problem as big as camphor laurel or Parramatta grass, a Braunstone farmer has warned.
Iven Heldt said nashi pear root, growing on more than 100 acres near Bom Bom Creek, had already taken over the area between Dinjerra Road and the Pacific Highway. He said it was starting to spread even further afield, including onto his property and neighbouring land.
According to Mr Heldt, council workers who had cleared some of the weed near Dinjerra Road discovered the thorn of the weed had punctured the tyres of their tractor.
"I've only noticed it (nashi pear) for around two or three years but it's been going around. I've got trees as high as the fence and I noticed one the other day which was seven to eight foot high," Mr Heldt said.
"Where it's growing out near Dinjerra Road, it's virtually in sand and clay so what will it do when it gets onto river country? If we get heavy rains then it will wash the fruit down Glenugie Creek to Ulmarra and it will spread even further down there."
Mr Heldt said the plant was incredibly difficult to remove and should be declared a noxious weed before it spreads out of control. He said the weed also posed a concern for cattle farmers because scratches and scars from the thorns, which are long and sharp, could cause damage to the hide of beef cattle.
"The fact is the authorities will not look at it as a noxious weed because it's not in a big enough area. But it's going to spread ... and get worse and worse," Mr Heldt said.
"Camphor laurel is a problem here and so is Parramatta grass, but when that first came here people didn't know what it was and we'll never get rid of it now. This could be the next thing."
Clarence Valley Council chief weeds officer Reece Luxton said even though the weed was a good example of 'land being allowed to go feral', he doubted it would be labelled a noxious weed.
"Unfortunately it's not likely to be declared a noxious weed because its spread patterns haven't determined to us that it will take off but we're still keeping an eye on it and gathering some background information before jumping in feet first."
However, he said the weed was currently under investigation and tests had been carried out for the past 12 months to find a way to kill the root.
"We've got a number of chemical control trials going on at a property down there," he said.
"The results are variable depending on what the situation is (so) we're just keeping a watch on it and seeing where it's going."