Crops at risk as farmers fail to heed calls to bait for mice this summer

Mouse numbers continue to rise despite calls by AgForce and CSIRO researcher Steve Henry to inspect for mice and bait during summer planting, risking serious damage to summer crops.

AgForce Grains President Brendan Taylor said that the level of inaction within the cropping community could only be because most were currently unaware of the extent of the problem.

“In December, when we first encouraged AgForce’s member grain growers to bait for mice and inspect their paddocks, monitoring by the CSIRO estimated 100 to 200 active burrows per hectare at some locations,” Mr Taylor said.

“Those numbers, while not exceedingly high, were already cause for concern because of the extent of the damage mice can inflict on crops in a relatively short period of time.

“But it seems few growers took notice because mice populations are continuing to multiply, and at a time when many are just getting back on their feet after drought.

“Several weeks later and we now need real, strong, immediate action before this situation gets out of hand.

“If growers don’t take steps – laying down baits, conducting visual inspections – we could end up with something approaching catestrophic.

“We’re all in this together, and it’s only by every single one of us working to control these pests on our own properties that we’ll reduce the extent of the damage and avoid the huge cost to industry, and to individual growers.”

Steve Henry from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO echoed Mr Taylor’s sentiments that the rise in mouse numbers in paddocks throughout Queensland could lead to significant damage to freshly sown summer crops, jeopordising, for some, their best harvest in years.

“With planting of summer crops still underway and some growers preparing for the next winter crop, growers cannot afford to be complacent,” Mr Henry said.

“The storms and showers we’ve had so far this summer, and the rain forecast still to come, provide the sort of conditions perfect for sustained breeding through into next autumn.

“It is critical that famers monitor all of their cropping paddocks and be prepared to bait if mouse numbers are high.

“Rapidly increasing populations of mice can cause significant damage, not only to crops, but to infrastructure and  expensive cropping machinery.

“That’s why, in addition to regular inspections of paddocks, good grain hygiene around silos and sheds is vital.

“If farmers think they will need to bait at sowing time, it’s important they talk to bait suppliers early so that they have bait on hand when it’s needed.”

Information about control tips and options is available via the GRDC Mouse Control website: https://grdc.com.au/resources-and-publications/resources/mouse-control or you can contact AgForce (07) 3236 3100.

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