Mice still problematic late in season

Mice damage can be misdiagnosed as crown rot from a distance


Grain
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Reckon your cereal crops have got a touch of crown rot? Researchers are advising farmers to check that it's not hungry mice instead.

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Mice are still causing problems in crops in parts of the country.

Mice are still causing problems in crops in parts of the country.

FARMERS should not be lulled into a late season sense of security regarding the potential for mice damage.

Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) senior research officer Kelly Angel said growers in northern Victoria had reported mice causing damage that from a distance appeared like the symptoms of a fungal disease.

“Some wheat paddocks looked like there were issues with crown rot, with the plants having white heads present, but that wasn’t the problem,” Ms Angel said.

“Instead mice had chewed into the node of the plant and the head has subsequently died, which is why from a distance it looked like the white heads that are a symptom of crown rot.”

Crown rot is a common fungal disease in wheat and barley right throughout Australia’s cropping regions and can cause particularly severe damage when there is moisture stress during the grain fill period.

Ms Angel said while the season in Victoria’s Mallee was better than in many parts of northern Australia there were still crops that have suffered from the dry spring, which is why many thought there was crown rot damage.

“The take-home message is definitely that you need to get out and have a really close look at the crop, it isn’t something you can pick up whizzing past in the ute.”

Mouse observation units across the country are reporting that while visual evidence of mice is not so obvious as earlier in the year, chew cards left in paddocks show numbers are still there.

Ms Angel said farmers, especially those with good crops, are weighing up a late season baiting program in problematic areas.

“Mice are coming from tree lines or edges of paddocks, perimeter baiting could be a worthwhile option,” she said.

“Others have gone over their whole paddocks again, just as an insurance policy, with yields largely set apart from problems like this”

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