Tis the gamba season

After a scorching hot build-up it’d be nice to hear the rumble of thunder in an approaching storm front, a few showers would cool things down nicely. The rain would also help to green up a landscape crisped dry by hot desert winds.

gamba stalk

Everything grows in the wet season and unfortunately this includes that scourge of the savannah, gamba grass. Like the vast majority of weeds, control of gamba grass is best carried out while it is in its active growth phase and the onset of the wet ‘tis truly the season to get busy!

With a surge in new growth all around it can be easy to confuse friend with foe.

Gamba grass is big! It’s a huge tussock grass up to 4m high and clumps of gamba grow so thick that it can be difficult to push your way in. Native perennial grasses such as giant spear grass and northern cane grass are also big but they are nowhere near as bulky, gamba really stands out in the savannah landscape. Gamba grass is fuzzy. Its leaves and stem are covered in soft white hairs and the ‘v’ shaped seed heads are also fluffy. Gamba grass leaves have a similar white midrib to itch grass leaves, but itch grass is smooth and hair free.

Gamba grass is a Weed of National Significance in Australia and a declared weed in the NT. Everyone has a role to play in the management of declared weeds and in the case of gamba grass, your responsibilities differ depending on where you live.

The majority of the Top End is in the Class A management zone. All public and private landholders in this area must work towards eradicating gamba grass from their property, prioritising outlying plants and new infestations.

Owners and occupiers of properties in the more northerly Class B zone are required to actively manage the gamba grass on their patch. This means reducing the size and density of infestations, constructing buffer zones and fire breaks and ensuring that gamba grass does not spread into clean areas, road corridors or adjoining properties.

Wherever your property might be it is particularly important that you ensure that you practise good farm biosecurity. Protect your most important investment by stopping gamba grass plants from seeding wherever possible and by keeping machinery and other vehicles clean and free of weed seed.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed in the growing season. The jobs list is endless and new tasks are added on a daily basis so the secret to successful gamba grass management is planning and the best time to start that is now!

Head to the gamba grass webpage at www.nt.gov.au/gamba for all you need to know about planning for a successful weed management season including those all-important gamba grass declaration zones.

Last updated: 12 December 2019

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