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Mouse damage to crops

Consultant, Felicity Pritchard (PACE), says mice cause damage to crops in several ways, depending on the crop stage and type. Mice will dig up and consume newly sown seed of most crops, which results in poor or failed establishment. Felicity says the seeds of many pulse crops have a high nutritional value and this can result in higher fertility rates and a faster build up of mice populations. Mice often follow crop rows and dig up seeds along the way. Under high mice densities, as much as 5% of grain seed can be consumed per night. In canola, damage is more often seen above ground as direct chewing on young plants. This may include complete removal of the cotyledons, which effectively kills the plant because it removes the apical meristem. It is common to observe circular patches of missing crop, or strips missing along paddock edges where there is adjacent cover (e.g. treelines).

When cereals are at the tillering stage, mice have a tendency to chew through the first node, and one mouse can affect many plants. Later in the year mice climb stems, and can drop whole heads (usually at the milky stage in cereals), or remove seeds from the heads. For crops such as canola and lupins, mice can chew on pods and potentially cause significant yield losses. Windrowed crops provide mice with a good shelter source and also allow easy access to grain or seedpods for mice to feed on. Other problems posed by mice are contamination of grain stores and haystacks.

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