3 July 1998

Slugs barley taste

SLUGS appear to find some barley varieties much more palatable than others, a fact growers would do well to take account of when selecting varieties for next autumn, says Hutchinson.

Startling differences in slug grazing were observed at the firms Meadow Farm this year.

"We could not believe our eyes," says Dick Neale, technical manager. "Rifle, Fanfare, and Gleam were demolished, while Regina was unscathed. This was never intended as the trial, but the results were so graphic we left it."

Malting varieties seem to be preferred by the pest, and growers of barley on slug-prone ground should take note, he believes.

"If the field is predisposed to slug attack, go for an unpalatable variety, such as Regina, Hanna, or Lagune. If you are going to grow a palatable variety, treat with full-rate methiocarb."

Slugs are fussy eaters, choosing one barley variety over another. This was Gleam, says Hutchinsons Dick Neale. Other varieties, such as six-row Lagune, behind him, were hardly touched.