MICE numbers are the highest they have been in five years following a warm, dry winter and last year’s high stubble load.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) invests in regular mouse monitoring technology.
It said recent reports indicated many areas had experienced mouse damage.
CSIRO researcher Steve Henry, who has been surveying mouse activity for the GRDC-investment project, said a high stubble load, in some cases, masked signs of mouse activity.
“The level of activity we are seeing now is higher than we have seen in the previous five years of monitoring, and suggests levels over winter were higher than realised,” he said.
“It can be quite deceiving for growers, because while we are seeing higher numbers than we would expect, particularly close to the Victorian border around Deniliquin, the damage levels are variable.
“The damage is higher in canola and lupin crops, and we have higher numbers of mice in those crops, which had a preceding barley crop.”
Mr Henry’s advice to growers was to continue vigilance in assessing mouse numbers and bait where there is evidence of high levels of activity or signs of crop damage.
“While mice will cause some issues in mature crops by climbing stems and chewing nodes resulting in dropped heads, the bigger concern with numbers increasing is the potential impact of high numbers at sowing next autumn,” he said.
“I have heard reports of significant areas of baiting already. By attempting to reduce numbers now, growers can potentially lower the rate of mouse population increase and keep numbers lower into autumn.
“I would also encourage growers and advisers to report and map mouse presence, absence and level of activity using MouseAlert (www.mousealert.org.au) so others can see the scale and extent of localised mouse activity.”
MouseAlert also provides access to fact sheets about control and forecasts of the likelihood for future high levels of mouse activity in each grain-growing region.