Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
The good news for farmers across the country is that a repeat of the horrible plague that ravaged Central West NSW in particular in 2021 is unlikely. However, CSIRO mouse researcher Steve Henry said there was no room for complacency and said farmers in other parts of the nation, such as the Mallee in both Victoria and South Australia needed to remain vigilant. Monitoring indicates trap rates of up to 30 per cent in parts of the Victorian Mallee which is quite high and we had this figure three times, so it was not just a one-off. We’re not looking at numbers like last year but there is definitely the risk mice could build up to economically damaging levels.
“As always, get out in your paddocks, check and monitor to see whether there is an issue.” Mr Henry said one of the primary concerns, right across the eastern seaboard and into South Australia, was the ample food source available. There were some heavy crops and in a lot of cases grain has ended up on the ground, which provides a lot of food for mice.
Mice are notorious as good swimmers, there are videos showing them paddling their way through the water. You might wipe out some of the young in burrows and the adults will perish eventually if they don’t make it to dry land but they certainly can swim for some time so a flood doesn’t just wipe them out. In terms of reports that unseen mice damage had caused yield penalties, particularly in southern and central NSW, Mr Henry said while he was not aware of it, it was possible.
You obviously notice the really bad damage, but it is possible that some incursions from mice during the spring were not noticed with the crop thickening up, so it is only noticed at harvest.