FARM advisers are warning the late seeding of canola and cooler temperatures could coincide with the emergence of red legged earth mites (RLEM).
Jerramungup WA Agriculture Department branch officer-in-charge Keith Devinish said this week, that the recent windstorms across the sand plain could have moved mite eggs from controlled to uncontrolled sites. "It's advisable that canola growers in particular get out and check the level of mite emergence. The losses can be considerable where the seedlings are already under stress because of the late or weak start. If you are pushing the system hard then that's when the crop or pasture is most susceptible."
Mr Devenish's remarks are supported by Mt Barker based department development officer Nikki Poulish. "Lambing ewes are especially subject to stress at this time," she said, and generally in the Albany region pasture growth is slow. If this is to continue the mites will add to the need for more hand feeding, some of which has been going on for some time. It's certainly a risk period here for canola growers if mite populations are heavy."
Reports coming in from the Ravensthorpe-Jerdacuttup area is that lambing percentages are down to 75pc following two years of above average lambing results. Lambs unable to be finished in the paddocks are already going into lot feeding in the dryer areas along the south coast.
Narrikup beef producer Allan Brown raises baby beef from his herd of 350 Angus breeders grazing his 480ha farm. Hay is his only crop. "Redlegged earth mites are always present but I've never sprayed them," he said. "I don't think we're worse off from not controlling them. I'm concerned for not eradicating beneficial insects - ones that will be parasitic to the mites." Mr Brown said there's plenty of evidence on his farm of ladybird beetles, but that other farmers have told him they never see them these days. To mid-May he had measured very little rain, but there's green tinge from later summer rain carrying over. His hay sheds are full. He says he's not worrying about the mites from past experience with them.