Don't let snails eat into your crop profits
Date: 04 Oct 2012
Growers with high numbers of snails in their grain this harvest can take steps to minimise numbers of the damaging pest in next year’s crop.
They may also need to clean grain, which could be rejected if more than half a dead or one live snail is found in a 0.5 litre wheat sample, or 200 gram pulse sample.
These are some of the messages in a new Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Snail Management Fact Sheet, which advocates a year-round approach to controlling snails, which damage crops as well as contaminating grain.
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) entomologist Svetlana Micic, who helped compile the fact sheet, said identifying snail species and monitoring numbers prior to harvest and before and after control operations were essential for making appropriate management decisions.
“A rule of thumb is if snail numbers are above 20 per square metre in cereals and five per square metre in pulses and oilseeds, be prepared to deal with grain contamination at harvest,” she said.
Ms Micic said moist summers boosted snail numbers as summer weeds provided the pests with shelter, moisture and food.
“Controlling summer weeds is important as it means that snails are more likely to eat baits, which should be applied before snails lay eggs, which occurs generally in late summer or early autumn,” she said.
“In cool, moist summers, baiting pastures or stubbles after harvest in December has seen good kill rates if snails have been actively feeding.”
Ms Micic said growers needed to bear in mind that hot, dry summers did not necessarily kill snails, and that stubble retention aided snail survival.
“The ‘Bash ‘Em, Burn ‘Em, Bait ‘Em’ principles of integrated snail management – outlined in the fact sheet - will help reduce snail numbers,” she said.
Ms Micic said there were increasing reports from WA growers of snails causing damage to crops and requiring control.
“Snails causing damage to WA crops are predominantly small conical snails, although round snails are also a problem at Esperance, Hopetoun and in parts of the Geraldton port zone,” she said.
“WA cropping areas where snails are most problematic include south coastal districts and some areas near Geraldton.”
The GRDC Snail Management Fact Sheet was mailed to growers in the September-October edition of the GRDC magazine Ground Cover, and can be downloaded from www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-FS-SnailManagement
The GRDC is conducting new research on baits, with a focus on juvenile snail control, including formulation testing of alternative ingredients and biological control agents.
PHOTO CAPTION: Small pointed snails harvested in canola grain. Adult snails were sieved out of the grain, but immature snails the same size as the grain could not be sieved out.
PHOTO CAPTION: Small pointed snails on harvested canola stalks in spring.
Media releases can be found at www.grdc.com.au/Media-Centre/Media-News
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034; 0427 189 827
GRDC Project Code DAW00177
- 552.52 kb Snail Management Fact Sheet - September 2012 All-year-round attack on snails required. A run of wet winters and moist summers have resulted in snail numbers increasing in many regions. While snails cause problems at crop emergence and harvest, integrated management needs to occur across the seasons.
- 1.26 mb Snail Bash'em Burn'em Bait'em Snail Bash'em Burn'em Bait'em