BLUE heliotrope is the hot topic currently casting a purple haze across Hunter paddocks and leaving many farmers baffled on where to start with control measures.
This prolific weed has populated drought-exposed lighter soils, popping up everywhere on the back of recent rain.
The pungent smell from this unwanted summer-active plant can cause issues for some allergy sufferers.
The fresh and dried weed is toxic to livestock, too.
Now, Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) will host a blue heliotrope management workshop and pasture tour at Merriwa on Friday, March 20.
Already, it's attracted interest right across the region from landholders battling this persistent weed.
The workshop will take place at 'Kingslyn' (212-213 Depot Road) from 9.30am until 1pm, with the pasture tour scheduled for 'Alcheringa' (Scone Road) between 2pm and 3pm.
Hunter LLS senior land services officer Sarah Giblin said the key to winning the battle against blue heliotrope was to "make a plan and stick to it".
That adage has been the driving force for cattle producer Col Bates, who is hosting the workshop on his Merriwa property.
Mr Bates had battled infestations of the weed for four years before attending a 2016 Hunter LLS field trip to Binnaway to hear how agronomist Bob Freebairn and local farmers turned unproductive heliotrope-infested paddocks back into productive perennial grass pastures.
Back home, he was inspired to combine learnings from the Binnaway trip with local advice from agronomists and form a new plan of attack to control blue heliotrope.
"In arable country, the 'fight fire with fire' approach has been adopted, sowing tropical pastures to out-compete the weed, and in native grass pastures, the focus is on effective control through multiple timely herbicide applications," Ms Giblin said.
"Workshop participants will get a first-hand view of the results of the blue heliotrope herbicide demonstration and advice on tropical grass establishment and management during an inspection of the summer-active grass pasture.
"Producers will hear about the weed's impact on animal health and a report on biological control options."
There's a reminder from the Hunter LLS Drought Support team of assistance available and deadlines for applications.
Following lunch, the event will shift focus and location to the Merriwa Pasture Demonstration Site for a close-up look at the performance of tropical grass and temperate legumes post drought and after a good fall of soaking summer rain.
There are even five new varieties of tropical legumes jumping out of the ground and a chance for an update on the active Soil Moisture Network station.
To register for this event, which is supported by Glencore through the Halls Creek Catchment Health Improvement Project, contact Hunter Local Land Services on 6540 2400 or visit Hunter LLS on Facebook.
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