Where crops are thin and the ground exposed, growers are being urged to consider applying slug pellets in a bid to curb numbers ahead of harvest.
An application at this time of year would not normally be advised as crops would be well advanced and it would be difficult to ensure the pellet reached the ground, but with many crops in a backward state and slug activity widely reported, an early treatment could relieve the pressure later.
It is important however, to establish population levels first. Trapping is essential to determine current pressure.
Under more typical conditions such a suggestion would be unnecessary, but our monitoring indicates slugs are highly active. This is supported by reports we are receiving from agronomists. Where crops are thin and the grower confident that the pellet will fall to the surface an early treatment should be considered, especially where pressure was high last year, says De Sangosse commercial manager Simon McMunn.
The April/May period is typically the principal breeding time for most slugs, though the grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum) can have several cycles throughout the summer if conditions suit. An application now could reduce populations and ease pressure on crops due to be drilled from August.
An application of as good quality pellet such as TDS, or at least, another wet process pellet, will persist for several weeks and should see a reduction in the population, says Simon McMunn.
Once harvest is complete growers are advised to monitor slug numbers before cultivations to gain a true indication of the threat to the following crop. Cultivations can disturb numbers and give a false indication of numbers.
Slugs are hardy creatures capable of enduring harsh conditions and with populations at extreme levels last year there is likely to be a significant carryover into 2013. Our advice is to plan ahead, produce suitable seedbeds where possible and apply a good quality pellet at the appropriate time to ensure effective control, adds Simon McMunn.