Western Downs farmers could lose up to 40% of crops due to plague
Western Downs farmers are set be suffer a huge economic blow as an invasive pest continues to rampage across the countryside, only months after farming experts issued stark warnings.
Increasing amounts of the rodents have begun to lay waste to a million dollars worth of crops across the region, despite calls from AgForce and CSIRO to inspect and bait during summer planting.
AgForce grains president Brendan Taylor believes large troves of mice have started to increase in areas throughout Dalby and Jandowae, but this could expand to other districts if farmers aren’t checking for the signs and baiting.
“Unless you’re out in the paddocks having a good look, especially at night, you won’t know they’re around until they’ve started to eat your crop,” he said.
“They can go largely unnoticed otherwise, with burrows, holes, and cracks being perfect homes for them.”
Mr Taylor said farmers could potentially lose more than 40 per cent of their crops if they unknowingly plant during a mice infestation.
“I’ve heard reports coming from a fruit and vegetable grower in Queensland who suffered significant damage, with mice running up his fruit trees and making them blemish, which made them difficult to sell,” he said.
“That being said, summer or winter crops, if they’re in the mood, they’ll be chasing nutrients and will go for anything.
“Even the smallest amount of mice can do the most damage.”
The welcomed wet weather in the Western Downs has partly contributed to the influx of mice, with Mr Taylor believing this has created higher crop and grass growth.
“When they start showing up in larger numbers in paddocks, it doesn’t take them long to start moving into residential areas,” Mr Taylor said.
“There’s always plenty of food in and around houses and sheds, and they can do a lot of economic damage.”
As it draws closer to the end of summer, he believes that if farmers don’t act quickly, it’ll be too late to try and regain what would be lost by the horde of pests.
“Your opportunity to replant the crop is very slim as it’s too late,” he said.
“Sorghum you could possibly plant, but not mung beans, and then the next concern will be when winter crop planting begins.
“The message is to get out into the paddocks, and have a really close look, and actively monitor mice activity and take care of them, because they’ll just keep breeding otherwise.”