IT'S the yellow flower popping up in paddocks across the state and while it might look appealing and harmless to the untrained eye, it is wreaking havoc for producers.
The Class 4 noxious weed in question is St Johns Wort and it is currently enjoying stellar growing conditions in several parts of the state including the Northern Tablelands, the Central Tablelands and the Central West.
Recent flooding is the major cause of the weed's spread as well as being carried by native and wild animals.
Central West Local Land Services (LLS) regional weeds co-ordinator Jodie Lawler said councils from across the region were regularly reporting new incursions of weeds.
"Unfortunately, floodwaters will often spread weeds into new areas and the follow-up rain and mild weather we've been having has meant many weeds are flowering much longer and growing prolifically," Mrs Lawler said.
"Weddin Shire Council has reported an increase in silverleaf nightshade and Parkes Shire Council is seeing new incursions of noogoora burr.
"Bogan Shire Council can see tiger pear and mother-of-millions being an issue after the wet year, and Forbes Shire Council is on the lookout for Chilean needlegrass."
Such is the impact St Johns Wort is having, a group of several Coolah producers have banded together to fund an aerial spray of parts of the area.
"This is one of the worst years for woody weeds like wort," said Coolah Pest Management Group president Doug Arnott.
"People are seeing weeds in spots they've never seen before. We had to invest in helicopter spraying to keep it at a level that doesn't impede our operations too much."
Central West LLS mixed farm advisor Callen Thompson urged primary producers to watch out for new weed incursions particularly along waterways and areas impacted by floodwater.
"Many land managers are flat out trying to get on top of weeds at the moment which is really important," Mr Thompson said.
"We would urge people to report anything they haven't seen before to their local council weeds officer for advice on control options.
"Consider prioritising control on high-value and high-risk areas.
"If you have had large outbreaks, try targeting areas with high environmental or production values.
"We also recommend treating areas where ongoing control will be difficult.
"For instance, controlling small incursions on hilly, un-trafficable areas can be effective whereas controlling dense populations in such areas can be expensive, time consuming and very difficult."
Phil Thompson, The Cliffs Australian White Stud, Molong, said all producers should be aware of the devastating impact St Johns Wort could have on livestock as well as cropping production.
"We've been working really hard spot-spraying and that sort of thing, which has helped remove it from our place, but we are now keeping a close eye to ensure it doesn't get back in," Mr Thompson said.
"What we've been seeing from a sheep perspective is that if the ewes eat it, it will go through their milk and affect the lambs as well.
"I've only encountered photosensitivity once in my life and I am 66, so it is fairly rare, but when it does hit, the impacts are honestly gross.
"Essentially, their faces swell up from the photosensitivity, their ears cauliflower and by the time you see it happening, it is too late and their faces peel like the worst case of sunburn you've ever seen.
"I think a bit of it comes down to a lack of understanding about how damaging this weed can be, while the other big reason for the spread is just inaction."
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