Gear up to battle slugs as autumn weather arrives

Growers need to face up to the threat posed by slugs this autumn and utilise better quality pellets if crops are to get the protection they need, warn agronomists.


The arrival of autumn rains has brought slugs out in force, but with newly-planted crops yet to get past the critical stage, growers are being urged take appropriate measures.


“We’ve had 50mm of rain in recent weeks and slug activity is commonplace,” says Agrii agronomist and Crop Watch contributor Iain Richards.


“Growers should be using a wet-process pellet with good persistence to see them through to the point until crops are able to sustain damage. The smaller pellets are fine in mild conditions, but they don’t offer the longevity needed when conditions worsen.”


His observations are supported by ProCam agronomist Steve Wolff who reports seeing increasing evidence of activity while walking fields for blackgrass.


“They’re not there in the numbers of last year, but there’s plenty about. Interestingly, they are being unpredictable in their spread.


“Land that would not normally be considered as harbouring a slug problem is rife with them and vice versa. Growers need to be on the lookout.”


“Land that would not normally be considered as harbouring a slug problem is rife with them and vice versa. Growers need to be on the lookout.”
Steve Wolff, ProCam agronomist

The shortage of the insecticide seed dressing Deter (clothianidin), which serves as a partial deterrence, will also raise the threat of grain hollowing and Mr Richards advises that untreated crops should be prioritised.


“Young plants will be vulnerable through to the end of tillering, so look to apply pellets as soon as seed-beds have been rolled,” he says.


Both agronomists agree that as we head into autumn, pellet longevity should trump baiting points when choosing between types.


“Pellet longevity is more important in wheat crops than oilseed rape, as the plant needs protection for longer.


“As long as the grower uses a quality, wet-process type pellet such as TDS (metaldehyde), one application will often be sufficient,” says Mr Richards.


There is also the desire to spread over wider distances says Mr Wolff and this raises the importance of pellet integrity.


“Unlike small pellets, ballistics tests show that bigger pellets have the mass needed to achieve an even spread across wider distances while better enduring wet weather.”


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For more guidance on achieving effective slug control see our Slug Academy