Mouse monitoring a must to reduce crop damage risk

Date: 28 May 2012

Mouse holeMouse monitoring a must to reduce crop damage risk

Grain growers throughout the southern cropping zone are being advised to exercise vigilance in monitoring for mouse activity as the potential for crop damage this year remains high in some areas.

With support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the National Mouse Management Working Group (NMMWG)* is urging growers not to become complacent with their monitoring regimes.

NMMWG chair Ian Hastings says that monitoring must continue to occur on a paddock-by-paddock basis and growers should be prepared to bait immediately after sowing where higher than normal activity is identified.

“Even though mouse activity levels are generally lower this autumn compared with last year, there are still areas at significant risk of mouse damage,” Mr Hastings said.

“Some breeding has been occurring and in those areas where mice caused significant damage last year or where paddocks are at high risk, considerable precautions must be taken.”

Mr Hastings, a Victorian grain grower, said paddocks with high risk characteristics were those that attention had not been paid to since harvest, were growing self-sown crops or infested with weeds, had been subjected to little or no grazing and carried an abundance of grain on the ground.

A recent meeting of the NMMWG, which was set up last year to address the then developing mouse plague situation, discussed the extent of current mouse activity.

In Victoria, activity has been described as:
• Generally low to medium across the grain belt, but higher in parts of the Wimmera, particularly east of Nhill and near Rupanyup, as well as at the western end of the Millewa and at Carwarp, south of Mildura.

In South Australia, activity has been described as:
• Generally low to medium across Eyre Peninsula, apart from patches of higher activity between Cleve and Tumby Bay and on the west coast near Wirrulla;
• Generally low on Yorke Peninsula, apart from some isolated hotspots along the coast in the Port Victoria region.

In New South Wales, activity has been described as:
• Generally low now, following earlier reports of activity around Darlington Point, Coleambally and isolated areas of the central west.

Mr Hastings said it was hoped that mouse breeding would now begin to reduce with the onset of cooler temperatures and shortening of daylight hours.

“However, in those areas where activity is still being noted and where the risk factors are high, growers should not hesitate in baiting immediately after sowing, if they haven’t done so already.

“Carryover populations of mice from autumn have the potential to cause severe damage to crops at flowering and seed set and so monitoring for damage and applying bait where necessary is imperative.”

The GRDC is continuing to invest in greater monitoring of mouse populations across the grain-growing regions to potentially provide growers, vertebrate pest authorities and the broader industry with a better understanding of mouse population dynamics. This monitoring program will place particular emphasis on critical periods for mouse activity, including spring this year and into autumn 2013.

Mouse damage and activity in SA should be reported to Greg Mutze from Biosecurity SA on 08 83039505; in Victoria reports should be directed to Banjo Patterson, DPI Victoria, on 03 5573 0730, or Sally Marcroft, DPI Victoria, on 03 5362 0740; and in NSW the point of contact is Don McCaffery, NSW DPI, on 02 6391 3648.

A GRDC fact sheet is available to assist growers with advice on strategies to minimise crop damage by mice. Endorsed by the NMMWG, the fact sheet is available for viewing and download via www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-FS-MouseControl or by contacting GRDC Ground Cover Direct, free phone 1800 110044 or email ground-cover-direct@canprint.com.au.

The GRDC has also developed a central source of information on mouse control via the website www.grdc.com.au/pestlinks.

* The NMMWG includes representation from relevant state governments, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), the GRDC and the Invasive Animals CRC. The group also involves grains industry stakeholders and grower organisations.

ENDS

Caption: Monitoring for mice must continue to occur on a paddock-by-paddock basis.

Media releases and other media products can be found at www.grdc.com.au/media

For further information: Ian Hastings, NMMWG chair
0418 502032

Rohan Rainbow, GRDC Senior Manager, Plant Health
02 6166 4500

Contact: Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

Region North, South, West, National