As high rainfall zone grain (HRZ) growers swing into winter crop planting, growers are reminded not to become complacent about the pests even though numbers may be down this season.
Dr Michael Nash, University of Melbourne says at this time of year growers should be closely monitoring crops, particularly after rainfall when conditions are moist and favourable for slugs.
“It’s particularly important to monitor areas which have been affected by slugs in the past,” Dr Nash said.
He suggests the large canola planting across the HRZ may result in increased slug populations over the season.
“The large canola planting will favour higher carryover of populations into next season, particularly if we have a wet season extending over summer,” Dr Nash said.
“Growers will need to be vigilant and adopt an integrated control programs which include choosing less susceptible crops.”
Dry autumn conditions suggest the potential threat is lower this year, compared to significant crop losses due to slugs last season.
“It is likely that slug damage will be much less severe than last year as growers are increasingly aware of the pest and are using integrated control approaches,” Dr Nash said.
“This is particularly evident in canola crops which have been monitored closely over the dry autumn – with many problem paddocks cultivated.”
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is funding research into and commercialisation of a biological control, which relies on a native nematode and symbiotic bacteria that kill slugs and snails.
Research is being carried out by Charles Sturt University (CSU) and may provide a future control option for slugs and snails.
Further work is being carried out on the current distribution of slugs and snails and the viability of new molluscicides. This research is being done by SARDI, The University of Melbourne and CSIRO.
Newly-funded research will review chemical control options including the relative efficacy and influence of bait size and density. GRDC expects the research to provide future research options for juvenile slugs and snails.
For more information on GRDC’s investment in high rainfall zone research, visit www.grdc.com.au/hrz.