THE HEAT of summer is only just dissipating but farmers are being urged to get on and bait for snails – which traditionally start to get mobile with the first moisture of autumn.
Entomologists from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) say snails go dormant during the heat of summer but can begin breeding again in autumn, and the best time to bait is early.
Snails are a major economic problem for farmers in many parts of the country, in particular those on alkaline soils in South Australia and western Victoria.
Entomologist Helen Brodie said the best efficacy in baiting was achieved when snails were controlled when they were feeding but before they start breeding, or in other words, about now.
As part of a project supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) snail movement has recently been observed in South Australia.
Ms Brodie said, surprisingly, snails were starting to move even though autumn rainfall has been virtually negligible across all of SA.
“Baiting programs should target snails as soon as they become active and before reproduction – therefore, now is the time to act,” she said.
Trials conducted over the past three years by SARDI as part of a GRDC research investment have shown that the reproductive organs of snails begin to mature from late March onwards, and then most reproductive activity occurs from late April to July.
In terms of the timing of bait application, Ms Brodie said putting bait out when the soil was likely to be moist for several days was ideal.
Snail contamination in grain samples can see farmers’ product downgraded to a lower paygrade when they are a problem at harvest time while at seeding the snails can cause establishment issues by eating emerging crops.