Skeleton weed in Western Australia - management guide

Page last updated: Thursday, 12 October 2017 - 9:03am

This Management Guide has been designed to assist landholders and increase their capacity to manage and eradicate skeleton weed infestations on their properties and to prevent its further spread within the State. Without a coordinated program aimed at controlling spread, skeleton weed would now be much more abundant and widely established throughout the Wheatbelt.

Skeleton weed is a declared plant which can drastically reduce crop yields (more than 1 tonne/ha in cereals) by competing for moisture and nutrients (mainly nitrogen). 

Declaration categories and management implications

Skeleton weed is declared under section 22(2) of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.





whole of the State except Narembeen and Yilgarn

  • eradicate infestations; destroy plants and prevent propagation each year, until no plants remain
  • prevent the spread of seed or plant parts
  • summer search is required 
  • winter control is required


Narembeen and Yilgarn

  • manage infestations to prevent the spread of seed or plant parts
  • summer search is required
  • treat plants to prevent seed set
  • winter control is required to receive search assistance

All landholders need to prevent the movement of seed and/or root fragments from their properties in produce (grain, seed and hay), wool and machinery and vehicles.

​The skeleton weed program

The Skeleton Weed Program is a coordinated approach to manage skeleton weed in Western Australia. It is delivered by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) under a service delivery arrangement with the Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Management Committee. The Committee acts under the ‘Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Industry Funding Schemes (Grains) Regulations 2010’ to manage prioritised pests affecting the grains industry.

Services provided under the program are only available to landholders who contribute to the Grains Industry Funding Scheme through the sale of grain, seed or hay. Landholders not under the scheme but who have skeleton weed on their properties are still required to meet their obligations under the program but at their cost. 


Assisting Western Australian landholders to eradicate skeleton weed and to prevent its further spread within the State. 


  • Improve landholders’ ability to find and eradicate skeleton weed.
  • Increase landholders’ awareness of skeleton weed as a highly undesirable weed.
  • Widely publicise descriptions and pictures of skeleton weed to help landholders identify infestations.
  • Inform landholders about the most up-to-date techniques available for the management and eradication of skeleton weed.
  • Encourage local grower groups (Local Action Groups) to participate in cooperative surveillance and reporting of infestations.
  • Encourage Local Action Groups to assist in the management and eradication of skeleton weed in their local areas.
  • Implement practical compliance regimes in affected areas.
  • Provide landholders with incentives to report infestations.
  • Provision of winter control treatments where landholders are compliant with program requirements

Our Program has very effective, well proven control methods for eradicating skeleton weed
– if YOU find it WE can treat it


Skeleton weed in Western Australia - management guide

  1. Declaration categories and management implications
  2. ​The skeleton weed program
  3. Local Action Groups (LAGs)
  4. Skeleton weed at a glance
  5. Where does skeleton weed grow?
  6. Surveillance for skeleton weed
  7. Plants often confused with skeleton weed     
  8. Spot the difference...
  9. Skeleton weed infested properties
  10. Landholder responsibilities
  11. Did you find skeleton weed?
  12. Searching infested paddocks
  13. Property and paddock record
  14. Marking search squares
  15. Search protocols
  16. Which search method is required?
  17. Winter treatment of skeleton weed
  18. Summer control of skeleton weed
  19. Options for erosion-prone soils
  20. Entire paddock infestations
  21. Treatment of broadacre areas
  22. Skeleton weed in urban properties
  23. Dealing with urban infestations
  24. Skeleton weed protocols list
  25. Non-compliance with protocols
  26. Helpful management tips
  27. Appendices
  28. Reporting - contact details
  29. Disclaimer
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Martin Atwell