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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Don’t panic it is everywhere!

Troublesome hairy panic weeds are once again causing issues for residents near Narrandera, piling up on houses and roads after multiple rainy summers. Hairy panic, a term commonly used to describe several weed species in the Panicum genus, produces spherical seed heads that roll with the wind. These plants thrive in pastures, fallow fields, and roadside verges, becoming most prevalent during warmer months, with seed heads forming at the end of summer. Complaints and reports have surged due to the accumulation of these seed heads, some reaching three meters high on roadsides.

Apart from being a nuisance, hairy panic poses health risks to animals and increases the fire hazard. When consumed in large amounts, sheep can suffer from liver damage and photosensitization, making their skin unusually sensitive to sunlight. Additionally, when hairy panic forms into large piles, it can exacerbate the spread of fires by adding to the fuel load under trees, as noted by Rural Fire Service Wagga Wagga Zone Commander Roger Orr.

Landowners can control the growth of these weeds through herbicides and tilling, but seed heads may still blow in from neighboring areas. According to Charles Sturt University plant biology specialist Leslie Weston, addressing the hairy panic problem requires extensive weed management practices, including herbicide use, over two consecutive years. Dr. Asad Asaduzzaman, a crop science specialist at Charles Sturt University, emphasizes that one year of management is insufficient to reduce the hairy panic seed bank and control the weed population effectively.

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