Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Walk through to catch mice


Grain growers are being urged to ‘‘walk through paddocks’’ to check for signs of mouse activity and crop damage to determine the need for on-going baiting applicatio­ns this winter.

Grains Research and Developmen­t Corporatio­n (GRDC)supported CSIRO mouse researcher Steve Henry said cold and wet weather may have reduced mouse population­s, but it was critical to monitor paddocks regularly and be ready to bait.

The CSIRO researcher is concerned that in some areas, mice may have taken refuge and be ‘wintering’ in pasture paddocks, native vegetation or waterways bordering farming country, and may move back in as crops develop.

‘‘It is imperative growers get out of their vehicles, walk into their paddocks and get a good feel for what is going on in respect to current mouse numbers and activity,’’ he said.

Mr Henry is concerned the population pattern could follow what happened in the 2010-2011 outbreak in western Victoria, where there were anecdotal reports of mouse population­s plateauing or declining through the winter and rebounding the following spring with significan­t damage to the ripening crops.

He said growers need to remain vigilant about checking for signs of active burrows or crop damage.

‘‘In cereals this may be chewing at the node or stem. In canola and legume crops, growers should be inspecting flowers and pods for damage,’’ Mr Henry said.

‘‘Mouse numbers are likely to be patchy given paddock history, so it is important to look in multiple locations.

‘‘At the first sign of crop damage, growers need to be prepared to bait, preferably with 50g/kg zinc phosphide spread at 1kg/ha. Aim to treat large areas to have a better chance of widespread impact and reduce reinvasion from surroundin­g areas.’’

Mr Henry said controllin­g mouse population­s during late winter and early spring would effectivel­y reduce the number of mice when breeding starts in September.

‘‘If conditions are favourable — mice need food, shelter and moisture to thrive — the rate of population increase can be dramatic,” he said.

‘‘Mice start breeding when they are six weeks old, and litters of six to 10 pups are born every 19 to 21 days.

‘‘So early detection and timely applicatio­n of bait at the prescribed rate is critical for reducing the impact mice have on crops.’’

Mr Henry also offered the following advice:

Do not bait ahead of a significan­t forecast rain event. Ideally bait should be applied

where there is a forecast for at least three to four dry days.

Put mouse bait out before other pest/nutrient treatments. This gives mice the chance to encounter zinc phosphide bait before they discover any other new substances in a paddock and reduces the likelihood of a sub-lethal dose being consumed and therefore bait aversion.

Do not mix mouse bait with snail/slug bait and do not apply mouse bait with a surface applicatio­n of urea. Zinc phosphide can be scraped off the surface of the treated grain when agitated with other substances.

Bait on the ground is more likely to be taken before mice

climb plants to eat developing seed heads.

Co-ordinate baiting strategies with your neighbours for area-wide management and highest impact.

GRDC has produced mouse chew cards which are a highly effective yet simple tool to measure activity in the paddock. These can be downloaded along with more informatio­n about mouse control from the mouse management section of the GRDC website —

Growers and advisers are encouraged to report and map regional mouse activity using the MouseAlert website.

 ??  ?? CSIRO lead researcher Steve Henry, pictured with Wendy Ruscoe, during a mouse monitoring exercise earlier this year.
CSIRO lead researcher Steve Henry, pictured with Wendy Ruscoe, during a mouse monitoring exercise earlier this year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia