Grain growers are being warned to keep harvesting and grain storage hygiene front of mind in the coming weeks to help reduce opportunities for mice numbers to increase.
Significant numbers of mice present across regions of southern NSW through spring suggests an early start to breeding, prompted in part by a warm and dry winter and last year’s high stubble load.
CSIRO researcher Steve Henry says growers can limit the amount of feed available to mice through meticulous hygiene.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) invests in an ongoing mouse monitoring program and recent reports show while numbers are relatively stable, there is concern about the potential for a large increase in autumn.
CSIRO researcher Steve Henry, who has been surveying mouse activity for the GRDC-investment, said that growers can limit the amount of feed available to the pests by ensuring that all grain gets into the header, not onto the ground.
“Spilt grain at harvest can provide perfect conditions for mouse breeding, it is critical that farmers are proactive about spaying out summer germinations to reduce the amount of food and habitat available for mice and It is also critical to maintain cleared grain free ground around all grain storage areas, Mr Henry said.
“There is a two-week [harvest] withholding period for application of bait to control mice prior to harvesting, so growers need to be using ‘common sense hygiene’ as their main control method.
“This means care in harvesting, spraying out summer germinations and being meticulous in preventing spills or loose grain around storages. Making these efforts now will hopefully limit the mouse numbers we will see at sowing time in autumn.”
Mr Henry said growers essentially need to use their common sense.
“Our feeling is that the high stubble loads last year masked the level of mouse activity, so I really encourage growers to get into paddocks to have a look at any mouse populations, and record those numbers,” he said.
“If you are storing grain on-farm, these are key areas to keep an eye on, particularly if using grain bags. It is also advisable to move those grain bags out of the harvest paddock away from mice.
“By ensuring grain spillages are cleaned up quickly and frequently, growers may be better able to control mice numbers through summer,” Mr Henry said.
Growers and advisers can report and assist in regional mapping of mouse presence, absence and level of activity using MouseAlert so others can see the scale and extent of regional mouse activity.
MouseAlert also provides access to fact sheets about mouse control and forecasts of the likelihood for future high levels of mouse activity in each grain-growing region.
The GRDC-investment into mouse monitoring is a collaboration project between Landcare Research (New Zealand), CSIRO Agriculture and Food and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.
For information about monitoring mouse activity, contact Steve Henry from CSIRO on 0428 633844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Observations can also be directed to Mr Henry via Twitter, @MouseAlert. Information about mouse control is available via the MouseAlert website, or the GRDC Fact Sheet on better mouse management.