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Agronomist, Jim Cronin (Landmark), has reported slugs feeding on wheat and canola around Forbes, in the Central West Slopes and Plains district of New South Wales. The slugs have trimmed the odd plant off at ground level, as well as shredding leaves, particularly on the upper part of wheat plants. Jim says the affected paddocks contain a heavy stubble load. Agronomist, Warwick Nightingale (Delta Agribusiness), says slugs have also been active in parts of the South West Slopes district of New South Wales. Slugs have been attacking a few emerging canola and cereal crops between Wagga Wagga and Albury.

The main pest species of slugs attacking broad-acre crops are the black keeled slug (Milax gagates) and the grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum). The brown field slug (Deroceras invadens) can also be a serious pest, with species often co-occurring. The most common control method for slugs is to use chemical baits, Baits are most effective when paddocks are bare, and so if there is retained stubble, control may not be as good. Baiting in late winter and spring is generally not as effective as baits applied prior to crop emergence.

When baiting, it is important to consider the soil conditions, number of baits used and how this relates to slug densities. Baiting efficacy can be reduced when there are higher slug populations, an increased availability of refuges, and higher amounts of plant material.

Click here for further information on slugs or refer to PestFacts Issue No. 2.

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