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Salvation Jane is one of the most common weeds in the Adelaide Hills, blanketing the landscape with its distinctive purple flowers in spring. As a declared weed, landholders are obliged to manage it. If you’ve ever wondered how to control it, we’ve got you covered.

Also known as Paterson’s Curse, Salvation Jane is a winter annual herb native to Europe. As a hardy weed and with the ability to reproduce at an exceptional rate, Salvation Jane rapidly smoothers other plant species, reducing the value of your crop or pasture. It is toxic to livestock, frequently fatally in horses. Cattle are affected to a lesser extent than horses, whereas sheep and goats are considered to be ‘relatively resistant’.

As a declared weed, landholders are obligated to manage outbreaks of Salvation Jane, and in this blog post, we investigate some of the most effective ways to control this pesky weed.

  1. Prevention is Better than Cure

Preventing the opportunities for Salvation Jane to set up camp on your property is a significant step in controlling the weed. With this in mind, make sure that you’re aware of the way in which Salvation Jane spreads so you can minimise those opportunities:

  • Practise good biosecurity measures. Consider what comes onto your property – hay, seed, mulch, soil, livestock (particularly sheep) and machinery all have the potential to carry weed seeds with them. Cheap hay and seed is often cheap for a reason – because it’s full of weeds! Check before you buy to make sure that you’re not importing a whole heap of nasties onto your property. If you use contractors, make sure they wash down their machinery before entering your property. And remember cheap hay isn’t cheap if you end up having to treat a weed issue!
  1. Managing Salvation Jane Outbreaks

Salvation Jane is prevalent in many areas of the Adelaide Hills, so if you find yourself with a patch, you’re not alone. Like many weed issues, the first thing to do is to map the extent of the Salvation Jane and then formulate a plan of attack. There are a number of management strategies for managing Jane, which is great – because you may need them all! As a hardy weed and a prolific producer of seeds, Salvation Jane is hard, but not impossible, to manage.

  • Slashing – One relatively easy way to start controlling Salvation Jane is to slash it. If you get it early enough, slashing will help to delay and suppress flowering, using up stores of energy and weakening the plant. If it has already started to flower, you’ll need to slash weekly or fortnightly to keep on top of new growth. Either way, slashing is a great start but will need to be backed up with a secondary strategy.
  • Spraying – There are a number of selective and non-selective herbicides on the market which will effectively target Salvation Jane. When deciding which herbicide is best, you’ll need to consider a range of factors including:
  • The surrounding crops and pastures that need to be protected from a spray application. This could include neighbours’ properties and areas of native bush.
  • The suitability of the herbicide to manage Salvation Jane, and in terms of withholding periods if you have any livestock.
  • The timing of the spray application. Salvation Jane needs to be targeted when it’s actively growing, and times of stress (drought, frost, etc) will lower the success of the spray. You’ll also need to make sure that spraying conditions are good on the day not too hot, windy or too close to a rain event.
  • The machinery and equipment to accurately and safely apply the herbicide at the recommended rates.
Salvation Jane in the Adelaide Hills
Salvation Jane spilling out of paddocks onto the roadside.

Spray Grazing is a great strategy to help manage weeds if you have livestock. Spray-grazing involves applying a reduced rate of a suitable herbicide to improve the palatability of Salvation Jane before grazing it heavily – between 5 and 10 times to normal stocking rate. The herbicide doesn’t actually kill the weed, but it makes it more inviting for livestock to eat. Once the weed has been significantly reduced through grazing, the paddock can be rested so that pastures can recover, before being grazed again. Spray-grazing needs to be repeated annually to be effective.

There are some factors that need to be considered with spray grazing – Salvation Jane is toxic to horses so they cannot be used and the weed must be targeted before flowering to prevent toxicity. Merino sheep are best, but must be “empty” (not pregnant) and non-lactating, and can only be used for a maximum of two years’ spray grazing. In addition, you’ll need to consider chemical withholding periods and the suitability of the chemical.

While Salvation Jane is a challenging weed to manage, it’s not impossible. The secret lies in understanding how it operates and matching an effective strategy that uses more than one approach to stop growth and prevent it from emerging in future. Because it’s so hardy and fertile, prevention is better than cure – so once you’ve controlled Salvation Jane on your property, make sure that you ramp up biosecurity efforts to minimise the chances of a future outbreak.

Landscape SA and PIRSA have produced Fact Sheets with lots more information that can be found here and here.

And, of course, if you need advice or help spraying or slashing, feel free to give us a call. With a proven track record for managing weeds as well as the right machinery to do the job, we can help get weeds under control on your property. We thoroughly clean all equipment between jobs, so you can be sure that you won’t be getting an unwanted freebie along the way!

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