27 April 2001
Experts issue spring slug warning

By FWi staff

WATCH out for slugs and be prepared to control them this spring, warns crop consultancy Farmacy.

Wet weather has boosted numbers making them a threat to all crops particularly backward cereals and sugar beet, says Michael Young, managing director of Farmacy.

“Poorly established and later drilled autumn crops are at major risk, with delayed spring crops also needing every bit of help when they are finally drilled.”

Treatment to protect tillers and plant populations is vital, adds Mr Young.

British Sugar considers the slug threat to beet is potentially worse than last season.

This springs delayed sowings mean growers are fast running out of time to re-drill damaged stands, says BSs Simon Fisher.

“They need to get it right first time round, ” says Mr Fisher. Any slugs which are found should be baited and treated. “If you find any, dont wait.”

If potatoes have to be grown on badly infested fields they should be short season crops, says Farmacys Mark Taplin.

Cambridgeshire-based MBM agronomist Chris Marshall agrees every possible step is required to counter the molluscs, but advises against starting now.

“But there is no point in applying pellets unless slugs are active, and with the weather having been so cold Id question the need for doing so at the moment.”

IACR-Long Ashton slug researcher Chris Wiltshire agrees that slug populations are likely to have built up because the mild winter stopped the pests going dormant.

“But there is a fair chance that cereals will outgrow the slugs from now on,” he says. “Fungal infections are much more of a worry.”

Norfolk independent crop consultant Andrew Scholey adds: “We dont normally expect winter cereals to be troubled by slugs in April.

“But they are still being attacked, mostly in patches where they were hit in the autumn.

“However, 99% of crops are not at risk and I wouldnt recommend treatment now even where they are backward.”

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