Mice threaten Wimmera crops

Mouse numbers are increasing across the Wimmera.
Mouse numbers are increasing across the Wimmera.

WIMMERA farmers are desperately trying to control mice as numbers increase across the region.

South Australia has a mouse plague and there are reports of high numbers in western Victoria.

NewAg Consulting agronomist Andrew Newall said mice had already caused damage to some crops, particularly canola.

He said numbers had increased in the past three to four weeks.

"It seems to be another generation of mice. There are lots of small to medium-size mice that aren't fully grown," he said.

"Farmers have certainly been chasing hard to get on top of it."

Mr Newall said numbers were higher to the north of Horsham, particularly the Horsham, Jung, Murtoa area.

"That's where I've seen them the worst," he said.

"Baiting has been quite prolific and farmers have baited once or twice on most crops.

"Some have had to bait three or four times to control the numbers.

"Farmers are concerned and are closely monitoring all of their crops.

"Mice can do a lot of damage pretty quickly and the numbers are higher than expected."

Mr Newall said while numbers were high, it was not the worst he had seen.

He said the warmer weather in the past few weeks coincided with higher mouse numbers.

"Besides that, we aren't too sure why they have increased," he said.

"We had a dry summer and it's not like there has been a lot of food around.

"There wasn't a lot of numbers prior to cropping but as soon as that autumn rain hit, they came from everywhere."

Grain Producers Australia chairman and Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann said while numbers were high, it couldn't be called a plague at this stage.

"We are certainly seeing a lot of activity with mice, particularly on the self-mulching grey clays of the Wimmera," he said.

"My understanding is from St Arnaud through to Nhill and Kaniva, through the typical black Wimmera soils, we are seeing quite high numbers in some paddocks."

Mr Weidemann said there were certainly enough mice about to cause damage.

"Growers are baiting with zinc phosphate bait," he said.

Bug R Off owner-manager Steve Olver said mice were appearing in homes throughout the Wimmera.

"We do a lot of commercial baiting jobs and the mice are smashing through the bait stations at the moment," he said.

He said populations this year were worse than the past few years.

"The past two or three years weren't too bad. This is definitely worse," he said.

"I think it's been the weather this year, with a bit of rain driving them out of paddocks and into homes."

Mr Newall said numbers should drop as crops advanced and temperatures cooled down.


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