Skeleton Weed Program

Page last updated: Thursday, 19 January 2023 - 1:39pm

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The Skeleton Weed Program is a coordinated approach to managing skeleton weed in Western Australia.

Background and funding

The Skeleton Weed Program began in 1973-74 following the discovery of large infested areas in the Narembeen shire.

The program 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.

The Grains, Seeds and Hay Industry Management Committee is funded through contributions raised on the sale of grain, seed and hay.

Services provided by 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.

Program strategies

  • 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.
  • Provide assistance with searching and eradication.
  • 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.

Summer searching and surveillance

The Skeleton Weed Program undertakes annual summer surveillance of paddocks with high chances of having skeleton weed. 

DPIRD has been carrying out a targeted surveillance program since 2002 with the objective to find infestations in areas considered a high risk of having skeleton weed. This program also raises awareness of the presence of skeleton weed on high risk properties. It occurs on non-infested properties between December and March in grain growing areas.

Properties chosen for surveillance are considered to have a high probability of having skeleton weed, due to being near or adjacent to a current skeleton weed infested property. Other properties are identified from analysis of current infestation locations, and predictions of spread from these locations.

Surveillance involves checking a minimum of three paddocks over summer (preferably crop stubbles) on each selected property. The aim is to search up to 300 hectares per property.

Landholders or managers will be contacted via phone and correspondence to advise of impending scheduled surveillance and confirm which properties can be searched. Paddocks should be livestock-free and unsprayed four weeks, and allow 5-10 days before Departmental searching of harvested paddocks; this will allow skeleton weed to grow above the stubble.

Ongoing monitoring

In addition to the surveillance program, all landholders in grain growing areas are encouraged to undertake their own monitoring for skeleton weed, as part of their farm biosecurity measures, using recommended search protocols as outlined in the Skeleton Weed in Western Australia: Management Guide.  

Reporting skeleton weed

Regional reports - please contact your nearest DPIRD or LAG office.

For regional areas report skeleton weed sightings to your nearest DPIRD or Local Action Group.

Metropolitan reports - use the below options

Report your observations using the MyPestGuide Reporter app or online at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au.

Further details

Further details about the Skeleton Weed Program can be found in the Skeleton weed in Western Australia Management Guide or email SkeletonWeedProgram@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080