Snails damaging a crop at Warooka on the Yorke Peninsula
Snail monitoring cameras have identified snails moving and feeding earlier than usual in the year, giving growers an opportunity to maintain control of snail numbers.
SARDI Entomology grains researcher Michael Nash says that while a dry spring generally results in a decrease in snail numbers, growers should not become complacent.
“We have shown the most important climatic predictor of snail damage in crops is autumn rainfall and the Bureau of Meteorology is currently predicting above-average rainfall for many areas, so there is certainly a risk of damage this season, despite the dry spring,” he said.
Baiting should occur before egg laying. This would usually indicate March, but with the earlier movement of snails observed, Dr Nash recommends growers begin baiting in February if they had good summer rain.
“Our cameras have taught us that even dew will see movement of snails and they are certainly feeding under all of our cameras already this season after six millimetres of rain,” he said.
Growers who are grazing sheep need to keep withholding periods (WHP) in mind as the WHP of eight weeks on most baits means that sheep will need to be taken off stubbles early, but Dr Nash says that where snails are a frequent problem, early intervention is the best strategy.
“Growers should think of a snail problem as
similar to a weed problem; if you keep on top of it you will be okay but doing
nothing would be foolish and could lead to out of control populations down the
track,” he said.
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