Mouse scourge

September 30, 2017

District farmers are starting to suffer the impact of elevated numbers of mice in the farming sector, according to local agronomists.

IK Caldwell agronomist Lachlan Holden said he does not believe numbers this year will equal the plague proportions in 2011, but there are enough of the rodents around to jeopardise crops.

At least one of his clients had suffered significant canola damage.

‘‘It’s hard to get a percentage of crop loss because it is so patchy, but mice have certainly attacked various paddocks on this property,’’ Mr Holden said.

‘‘Mice always seem to spring up after a year of high yield, and right now there is a bit of surplus grain hanging around due to low prices.

‘‘Numbers are definitely elevated, but I don’t think they will reach 2011 populations.’’

Elders Deniliquin agronomist Adam Dellwo said the increase of mice damage seemed to coincide with flood irrigation from mid-September.

He said the majority of his clients had reported crop jeopardising damage.

‘‘I have baited 80 per cent of my clients’ crops,’’ Mr Dellwo said this week.

‘‘There seems to be no geographical region mice are being found, but we have observed the more mature crops are suffering the most damage.

‘‘We think the cold irrigation water has forced the mice out of their holes and up the stalks, where they have happily found a banquet of food.

‘‘Some of my clients have lost between five and 10 per cent of their crops, which is enough to make the cost of prevention worth it.

‘‘In one isolated case, I have a client who has lost 15 per cent.’’

Mr Dellwo said it is also evident the mice are breeding, which he said indicated the issue will not be resolved quickly.

Field Air operations manager Paul Thomas said the business has provided aerial application of Mouse Off to about 800ha of land in the Deniliquin area.

‘‘That is certainly more than we’ve seen in previous years,’’ Mr Thomas said.

‘‘More people are requesting the product, mainly around Deniliquin and Birchip, but also in the Finley area.

‘‘The tell tale sign is holes in the banks, and I would suggest as soon as you see 10 or more mice you need to do something about it.

‘‘While on-ground baits are effective, they only stop mice coming in and often not the ones already there.’’

Murray Local Land Services has said mice have also been attacking corn crops in the LLS region, and Mr Dellwo said cereals may also be at risk.

Landholders are asked to closely monitor for mice activity and speak to their agronomist or rural supplier for advice on control.

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