The near-ideal growing conditions set to hit the Murrumbidgee this season have come with a significant drawback for harvesters in the region, with a new wave of mice predicted.
The mice that earlier plagued NSW have rapidly recovered from the colder months and are forecasted to return and wreak havoc on Riverina crops.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall is taking action with a statewide forum discussing the mice, bringing together researchers, industry figures and farmers to formulate solutions and confront the mouse problem.
The forum will include scientists from the CSIRO, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and local land services. Industry groups such as Grain Producers Australia and NSW Farmers will also be attending.
"The NSW Government has already put $150 million on the table through the mice support package but we know this threat is coming and it will take an industry-wide response to minimise its impact this harvest," Mr Marshall said.
"This forum is about bringing key government, industry and manufacturing representatives together ahead of what will be a spring surge in mouse numbers to ensure everything that can be done to tackle this problem is done."
Steve Henry, a research officer from CSIRO Health and Biosecurity said that acting early is the best chance to get on top of mouse activity. He created MouseAlert.org for harvesters to report and monitor mouse activity.
"What we're saying to farmers now is we think there's been a higher than normal level of overwinter survival... Because we're looking at a really good crop, that means there'll be lots of food and lots of shelter for them," he explained.
"Before the crop ripens, get out and look for signs of mice and damage. If you do see those signs, be prepared to bait early so it takes the breeding potential out of the population."
He explained that baiting before food is readily available greatly increases the chance that the bait will be effective as it won't be diluted by other grains in the area.
"The next key message is to harvest as cleanly as possible because food left on the ground after harvest is what sustains mouse population for the next year," he finished.
The one-hour forum will be held via Zoom at 3pm on September 21. More information and registration is available on the Department of Primary Industries website.
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