Nature cannot be fooled so don’t skimp on slug control this autumn

Growers are urged not to cut corners when protecting crops against the threat of slugs this autumn.  According to Simon McMunn of pellet manufacturer De Sangosse, growers should not be misled into thinking that the recent spell of good weather will have reduced slug populations significantly.

“Growers are being bombarded with advice, not all of which is sound,” he says. “Growers need to realise that when conditions change crops will be under a great deal of pressure,” he adds.

“The warm soils across much of the United Kingdom will do much to improve germination rates and help crops to establish before the onset of winter, but with slug pressure forecast to be high crops will benefit from the protection of a quality pellet, such as TDS,” he says.

Although a repeat of last season’s unprecedented pressure is unlikely most experts accept that there is likely to be a large carryover of slugs.

“Certain crops might not be under much pressure currently, but there is a long way to go before they are past the critical stage and once the rain arrives, which it inevitably will, slugs will become active and troublesome,” says Mr McMunn.

With such high pressure expected he is advising growers to plan accordingly and adopt a strategy that utilises the best quality pellet with excellent all round characteristics to ensure lasting protection.

“Contrary to popular belief not all slug pellets are the same.  They might claim to do a similar task and offer comparable levels of performance, but in reality there is as much separating pellets as there is a two-wheel drive and a four-wheel drive tractor.  In easy conditions the difference is less evident, but as conditions worsen, the superior performance of a better quality pellet becomes clear,” he says.

The first step to effective control is pellet selection and Mr McMunn says there are two main characteristics for growers to consider when ordering supplies: the manufacturing process used and the size of the pellet.

“Slugs are discerning eaters and poor control from sub-lethal doses can lead to the pest becoming bait shy.  In contrast, TDS process pellets contain attractant to entice the slug to the bait. It also uses high-grade Durum wheat flour to deliver high palatability scores which ensures the slug consumes sufficient active ingredient to cause death.”

Mr McMunn urges growers to consider the advice of renowned slug expert Dr David Glen who wrote an article examining the importance of pellet selection is achieving a desirable level of control in which he noted the following:

“A great deal has been made about the role of baiting points in achieving effective control, but higher baiting points come at a cost. While it might seem advantageous to have more pellets per square metre it means an increase in pellet surface area and a reduction in individual pellet mass.

“This does nothing to promote good persistence or spreadibility scores. Smaller pellets are also more likely to disappear down cracks in seedbeds, where they can be more difficult for slugs to find. Research has shown that effective control can be achieved with as few as 30 pellets per square metre.

“The lesson of 2012 is clear: timely application just before the crop becomes vulnerable and pellet quality are the determining factors in achieving effective control, not the distance by which the slug has to travel to locate the bait.”