Right spring-clean keeps insects away

Warmer temperatures and longer days are a timely reminder to start preparing and planning for harvest.

Agriculture Victoria Grains Biosecurity Officer Jim Moran said with another La Niña on the way, effective grain hygiene, handling and storage, plays a key part in maximising returns.

“The onset of spring brings harvest planning and preparation to front of mind.”

“This should mean considering your tactics for controlling insects when harvesting, handling and storing the new grain.”

“To prevent insects from damaging stored grain and limiting marketing opportunities, storage hygiene strategies are needed now,” he said.

Practical steps that can be taken on-farm at this time, include:

  • cleaning up all grain residues and spills in and around grain storages
  • cleaning out and treating empty grain storages, grain handling and harvesting equipment and applying a structural treatment (such as desiccant dust) to each surface – this includes inside grain silos, aeration ducts, augers, conveyers, harvesters, field bins, header fronts, headers, trucks and trailers
  • repairing or replacing seals around hatches, latches and chutes to prevent insects gaining access to silos
  • pressure testing silos to ensure they meet gas tight specifications if using for fumigation. (Australian Standard AS2628 provides an industry benchmark for pressure testing sealable, gas-tight silos).

“If required, fumigate safely by strictly following the product label and associated safety precautions,” Mr Moran said.

“Always apply the correct dose for the volume of the silo for the prescribed time, to ensure effective insect control as insects can develop resistance if only partially exposed to fumigants.”

Mr Moran urged grain growers to get advice now on what types of protectants to apply on new grain going into medium and long-term storage.

“Remember, different stored grain insects vary in their susceptibility to insecticides, just as different chemicals are only suitable for specific commodities.

“If possible, get advice on your capability to aerate the new crop once inside the silo as a cooler environment slows down the insect breeding cycle, making them easier to control effectively.

“Farmers should do everything within their means to ensure grain from this year’s harvest can’t be mixed with grain from previous harvests, as it could be contaminated with insects and disease.

“Closely monitor grain storages for insect variety and numbers by regularly sieving grain and installing insect traps and of course, if you see anything unusual, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.”

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