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Growers in areas that have a history of snail problems should be aware of the risk of snails becoming a grain contaminant at harvest this year. The next few weeks will be the last window of opportunity for baiting, as all baiting must have ceased by the end of August or two months before harvest. This is to ensure the bait has broken down and does not become a contaminant of the grain itself. There is a zero tolerance for bait contamination of grain.

There are four introduced snail species that are pests of grain crops and pastures in southern Australia. There are two round snails – the vineyard or common white snail (Cernuella virgata) and the white Italian snail (Theba pisana), and two pointed snails – the conical snail (Cochlicella acuta) and the small conical snail (Cochlicella Barbara). All snails are hermaphrodites, and each snail can lay approximately 400 eggs per year.

If baiting is not conducted in August, the only options available to manage snails are to windrow crops, make header modifications at harvest or to conduct post-harvest grain cleaning. To monitor for snails, check across the whole paddock, paying particular attention to fencelines and adjacent areas such as roadside verges where snails often reinvade paddocks. If baiting is required be aware that juvenile snails (round snails less than 7 mm in diameter and conical snails less than 7 mm in length) are much less likely to consume baits than mature snails. Baiting is most effective if applied to paddocks when there is adequate moisture to stimulate snail activity. Paddocks should be inspected one week after baiting to check efficacy and assess the need for further baiting.

Click here for further information about snails and integrated management options that are available.

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