SNAILS need to be controlled before they lay eggs and for those farmers that received heavy rain in February, it may be too late.
Modelling from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) showed if there was rainfall in February, there tends to be earlier egg laying starting from mid-March, however if there's later rainfall, egg laying starts from mid-April.
Speaking on DPIRD's Grain Convo podcast, research scientist Svetlana Micic said snails needed to be stopped before they start breeding with rainfall the determining factor of when egg laying will begin.
"Because snails are so patchy, we have gone away from giving a number at which they need to be controlled and instead we now say if growers have snails they need to be managed as eradication isn't an option," Ms Micic said.
"If snails are found, even in a small discreet patch for the first time, that small patch should be baited.
"If however, snails are discovered throughout a paddock, then the whole paddock will need to be baited or another management option applied from fence line to fence line in order to drop numbers right down."
The species of snails which have an impact on broadacre crops in Western Australia are split into two categories - round snails and conical snails - and are all introduced from the Mediterranean region in Europe.
Round snails tend to stay above ground, whereas conical snails have a burrowing habit over summer and tend to be found in the stem of plants, meaning when it comes to control, the later is harder to get a handle on.
Ms Micic said round snails were easy to control as they were more likely to encounter baits.
"On the other hand, conical snails are more difficult as when the crop germinates, the baits have to compete with them to control the snails," she said.
"If the snail has a choice and comes across the plant first, it will chew on that before chewing on the bait."
Round snails are also easier to see as they tend to stay on the top of vegetation, whereas growers need to look inside and under stubble to see if they have any conical snails.
The predicted distribution for snails is mainly in the higher rainfall areas around the coastal strip.
Round snails tend to have a preference for being found in soils with a higher calcium content, whereas smaller conical snails can be found across all soils types.
Having said that, issues with snails in the lower rainfall regions, such as Salmon Gums, have been detected.
DPIRD believes if they can survive in those locations, there is a high chance they can survive in many other areas around the Wheatbelt.
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