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Mice warning for grain growers

Above-average crop yields in parts of the Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW could spell mouse troubles next year.

December 31, 2013 4:05am

Mice are likely to thrive in present conditions.


Above-average crop yields in parts of the Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW could spell mouse troubles next year.

While mice have not been a major issue this year, populations can rapidly build if food sources such as spilled grain are plentiful during the months after harvest.

Supported by Grains Research and Development Corporation, pest management authorities are advising growers, particularly those in high-yielding regions, to take steps to avoid the build-up of mouse populations.

Biosecurity SA Research officer Greg Mutze said spilled grain in paddocks allowed mouse numbers to build up rapidly and damage next year’s crops.

He said an elevation in mouse populations usually occurred the year after a bumper harvest.

‘‘The problem arises when a lot of grain is left on the ground — a small percentage of a large harvest can equate to a significant amount of feed for mice,’’ Mr Mutze said.

‘‘Some areas also had bad wind damage this year that dropped a lot of grain before harvest — that is the worst possible scenario if combined with summer rains which promote weeds and mouse habitat.’’

He said managing weeds during summer to reduce mouse habitat and food sources would be critical for areas with large grain losses.

‘‘Even with the best management over summer it is likely that some baiting will be required at seeding next year.’’

Other measures that can be taken over the coming months to curb mouse breeding include heavy grazing immediately after harvest, cleaning up grain spills around grain storage and removing cover, including plant material, rubbish and general clutter that provide protection for mice.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation has also funded a three-year study to monitor and model mouse populations across Australia’s grain belt.

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