Mice control this winter cropping season

While we are all hoping that winter brings some relief to the mice problem, producers should be prepared if mice are still active prior to harvest, and consider what control options are most suitable.
According to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), observing and monitoring any changes in populations is essential before any effective and targeted mouse control plan can be rolled out.

We recommend producers read the GRDC’s ‘Tips & Tactics – Better Mouse Management’, which provides detailed baiting recommendations as well as specific advice at sowing (autumn), during crop growth (winter) and prior to harvest (spring and summer).

For control at sowing, GRDC advises that producers:

  • Control weeds and volunteer crops along fence lines, crop margins and channel banks in autumn and before seedset to minimise sources of food and shelter.
  • Consider changing crops in the rotation if mouse numbers are high. For example, chickpeas after barley are considered higher risk than beans.
  • Sow as evenly and as early as possible for each crop to ensure strong plants establish rapidly.
  • Do not dry sow because this delays establishment and leaves seeds vulnerable to mouse damage.
  • Slightly increase seeding rates and sow as deeply as possible if mouse numbers are high at seeding. This will compensate for losses.
  • Cross-harrow or roll after sowing to ensure good seed coverage and to remove sowing lines.
  • When mouse populations are high at seeding, these practices are often insufficient to control damage and baiting at sowing may be necessary. Bait should be applied according to the label.

To assist with baiting, the NSW Department of Primary Industries has successfully applied to the APVMA to allow the use of zinc phosphide bait on bare fallows prior to the 2021 sowing period.   
The permit allows for bait to be applied late in the afternoon to maximise consumption of bait by mice, which generally feed at night, and is in effect until August 2022. 

The approval requires users of zinc phosphide to report any bird kill incident following application of the bait to fallow land to either NSW DPI at or NSW EPA here.
Producers should not harvest crops or allow livestock to graze baited areas for 14 days after application.   
It is important producers consider all their options prior to sowing and have plans in place to manage mouse numbers if they start to increase coming into spring.

For further information 

Upcoming mouse management workshops 

CSIRO Researcher Steve Henry will be visiting our region to host a series of mouse management workshops, providing advice on a range of issues, including reducing numbers leading up to sowing, protecting crops during sowing and controlling in-crop mouse numbers. 

Workshops are free, but bookings are essential. 

Upcoming workshops include: 
  • Narrabri | 25 May: 11.30am-1.30pm at the Narrabri RSL Club 
  • Bingara | 25 May: 5pm-7pm at The Living Classroom 
  • Croppa Creek | 26 May: 11.30am-1.30pm at Croppa Creek Bowling Club 
  • Moree | 26 May: 5pm-7pm at the Royal Hotel 
Register for any of the above workshops HERE
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