Keep an eye out for slugs in your winter cereal crops

The recent wet weather means it is ideal weather for slugs to be out and about in tillage crops. Farmers with emerging or recently emerged winter cereals should be keeping an eye out for damage and, if numbers are high, treatment may be needed.

Growers should check fields regularly for traces of slugs or for leaf damage where they have been feeding. It is also useful to dig down to the seeds and check that they have not been hollowed out by slugs before plants emerge.

Slug traps

Slug traps can be set up in crops to check numbers. Some farmers place a slate or a number of slates out in fields overnight and check numbers in the morning time. A small scattering of porridge under the slate can help to attract slugs if they are present.

If you have four slugs or more under an individual slate in a cereal crop the next morning you might consider a slug pellet application.

Pellet application

However, remember that slug pellet application needs to be accurate in order to work.

Plants are most vulnerable when they are emerging and the plant tissue is soft. Applying pellets in one application can also be effective as this provides more bait points at a time, compared to when applications are split and rates are reduced.

Growers should always remember to check the weather forecast before application and avoid applying before rain as pellets may dissolve and lose effectiveness.

Cold weather should reduce slug numbers. Slug numbers should also be lower in dry conditions. Farmers who planted in higher-risk scenarios, such as where straw was chopped, should be extra vigilant for slug numbers.

As many winter cereal crops remain to be planted, farmers should keep an eye on numbers after sowing. Slugs can do significant damage to winter cereals up to GS14.