Grain growers are being urged to assess mouse numbers on their properties to determine if they are likely to pose a risk at sowing.
Growers and their advisers at the recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Update were encouraged to be pro-active with mouse control strategies in 2018 in the wake of extensive crop damage last year.
Mild weather and a reasonable supply of food sources as a result of grain being left on the ground due to weather events and frost in 2017 have contributed to numbers being higher than normal levels for this time of year across the state.
Mouse monitoring experts engaged in GRDC research investments said potential exists for economic damage at sowing this year in both states.
Growers should be prepared to bait in the lead up to sowing...CSIRO researcher Steve Henry
CSIRO researcher Steve Henry said it was imperative for growers to get out of their vehicles and walk into their paddocks to get a feel for what was happening in respect to current numbers.
“If they think they are going to need bait, they should talk to their suppliers immediately,” he said.
“If they leave it too late, supplies may not be available when they need to bait, as has occurred in previous years.
“Growers should be prepared to bait in the lead up to sowing, as well as being prepared to bait at sowing, and it is important that they monitor the effectiveness of baiting after each application.”
Broadscale application of zinc phosphide bait is the only method available to growers to control mice in their paddocks.
Mr Henry said timely application of bait at the prescribed rate of one kilogram per hectare was paramount for reducing the impact mice have on crops at sowing.
“Strategic use of bait is more effective than frequent use of bait. Ideally, bait should be applied eight weeks ahead of sowing, before another single application at sowing.”
Mr Henry also encouraged growers to implement other mouse reduction strategies such as reducing the amount of food sources available by spraying out summer weeds and volunteer cereals, and cleaning up grain on the ground by grazing sheep on stubbles.
“Growers need to reduce alternative food sources to make baiting as effective as possible because bait aversion can be a real issue.”
Mr Henry encouraged growers and advisers to continue to report and map mouse presence, absence and level of activity using www.mousealert.org.au.