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Agronomist, Damien Tanner (JSA Independent), has reported slaters causing considerable damage to a seedling canola crop near Donald, in the Wimmera district of Victoria. The damage is characterised by irregular chewing of the cotyledons and leaves. Damien says about 10% of the plants have signs of feeding damage. The seed was treated with an insecticide dressing, but this does not appear to be offering much protection.

Although uncommon, slaters will occasionally attack broad-acre crops, and in some instances can cause serious damage. The number of issues with slaters has increased considerably over the last 5 years or so. There appears to be a strong correlation with minimum tillage and stubble retention. Stubble provides a cool, moist refuge that facilitates survival and population development.  

However, it is important to remember that the presence of slaters within a paddock (even in high numbers) does not necessarily mean a pest issue. Slaters typically feed on decaying organic matter and only rarely feed on crop seedlings. Monitor crops closely before deciding on the best course of action. In the past, some growers have used methiocarb baits or high rates of chlorpyrifos sprayed late in the evening (or at night), when slaters are most active.

Refer to PestFacts Issue No. 2 for further information on slaters.

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