Mice numbers climbing in the MIA, growers warned to be vigilant

YUCK: Growers have been warned to keep an eye on mice numbers as they continue to rise.
YUCK: Growers have been warned to keep an eye on mice numbers as they continue to rise.

SOUTHERN NSW grain growers are being urged to continue being vigilant for mouse activity.

Mice numbers are reasonably high in some cropping areas across the state.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) invests in regular mice monitoring and recent reports indicate areas, which began the season with big stubble loads or grain left on the ground, have experienced significant mouse damage.

CSIRO researcher Steve Henry, who has been surveying mouse activity for the GRDC-investment project, warned bringing even a small infestation through to spring could create massive problems for summer.

“We are seeing lots of damage in barley stubbles as these crops provided not only ample feed for mice, but also shelter,” he said.

“I have seen high numbers in rice stubbles at Coleambally and we have had reports of mouse damage in canola across the southern irrigation zone, in places like Deniliquin and Finley.

“In rice stubbles in Coleambally they are literally running around under your feet, and I have heard of one grower with a wheat crop on raised beds, who has flooded between the beds to flush the mice out.”

Mr Henry said many growers had already implemented successful control programs, which had reduced mice numbers across several cropping regions of NSW.

However, he said it was critical on-farm control programs continued through winter and he urged growers to keep monitoring mice numbers and be proactive about management.

“If you are still seeing mice towards the end of winter, you need to consider baiting to prevent carrying high numbers into spring,” he said.

"To look for active burrows, I suggest growers walk about 30 metres in from the edge of the paddock and set a 100 metre (one-metre wide) transect through a crop, following the furrows.

“They should walk slowly along the transect scanning for evidence of mouse burrows, taking note of any burrow that looks active and recording the number of burrows per 100 metre transect, and then repeat across two or four transects.

“If there are more than two to three active burrows per 100 metres, then they have a mouse problem.”

For information about monitoring mouse activity contact Mr Henry from CSIRO on 0428 633 844 or email steve.henry@csiro.au