Successful Control of Wheel Cactus at Pigeon Hill Property
During the past decade, one property in the Pigeon Hill area near Maldon (Watersons Rd.) has successfully treated a very heavy infestation of Wheel Cactus using direct injection of the herbicide Glyphosate. Now it takes only approximately 5-6 days per year to walk the whole property and inject all the new, small plants and maintain their ‘Wheel-Cactus-Free’ status. The owners, Denis and Jeff, have provided the following very interesting advice:
“When we purchased our property, 185 acres of granite hilltop country, we recognized that it had a severe cactus infestation that would take a significant effort to manage, and a very much more difficult and time-consuming proposition than a relatively flat property. Since we did not live in Victoria at the time, we decided to bring in a contractor to manage the infestation. We were extremely fortunate to find an outstanding contractor who we could trust to eradicate the infestation with little input from us.
Around five years after we appointed our contractor to work at eradicating our cactus infestation, we achieved the objective for our property. Our contractor had completed a sweep of our property and for the first time in decades, our property did not produce any cactus seed. We were not free of cactus because some regrowth had occurred but we were not producing seed that could be carried by birds and foxes to infect other properties in our community. Over the next two years, our contractor set about treating the cactus regrowth and then from that time, we have been in a maintenance phase which has involved a very much smaller time and money commitment.
In the little more than a decade since we set about eradicating cactus from our property we learned some valuable lessons :
Lesson one. Ignoring a cactus infestation is not a viable strategy. The problem doesn’t go away….it gets worse and can get so bad that it will overwhelm a property owner.
Lesson two. Early intervention is the only strategy that can eradicate the cactus and contain the cost of eradication. One shot of chemical in a two-year-old plant and it’s finished. Leave that plant untreated for a further two or three years and it will take significantly more time to treat.
Lesson three. Every successive sweep of our property to treat cactus regrowth involved ever decreasing effort such that now, staying on top of the problem is a matter of less than a day a month.
Lesson four. If you are to employ a contractor, build trust and together set realistic goals that will complete the task and eradicate the infestation to the point where the property owner has the capacity to undertake the maintenance program for the property.
Lesson five. The time and money we spent on eradicating the cactus infestation on our property was not seen by us as a sunk cost, it was an investment, offset many times over in the increased value of our property. The opposite is also true, an overwhelming cactus infestation could have a serious impact on the value of your property.
Lesson 6. By ensuring that a property no longer produces cactus seed, a landowner is being a responsible neighbour not only to immediate neighbours but more importantly, to the general community. We can go to the boundaries of our property now and see significant infestations of cactus but feel no more at risk of re-infestation than any other property in our community, within the range of an animal or bird that can carry the seed from eating cactus fruit. We now have a very broad definition now of being responsible landowners for our neighbours and community. We also no longer feel that we are any more impacted by the cactus infestations that remain on the properties of some of our immediate neighbours than are any landowners in our community.”