Bloomberg News

Slugs Seen Invading U.K. Fields by NFU After April’s Record Rain

May 22, 2012

U.K. farmers and growers should prepare for a surge in damaging slugs in their fields this summer after the wettest April on record created “ideal conditions” for reproduction, the National Farmers Union said.

Slugs cause an estimated 8 million pounds ($13 million) of damage to U.K. horticulture due to lost output, the NFU wrote in a statement on its website today. In grain crops, a single slug can kill 50 wheat seeds in the first week after planting, according to the farm group.

The U.K. had its wettest April in records dating back to 1910, improving conditions for crops after a dry winter period. Slugs, which can live six to 18 months, usually lay more eggs after autumn and spring rains, according to the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook.

“April to May is an important peak of the breeding cycle,” David Glen, a slug specialist with Styloma Research and Consulting, was cited as saying by the NFU. “With conditions as they are, slug activity will be very high, so populations are primed to increase significantly.”

U.K. slug populations have grown in the past 20 years as farmers preferred winter-sown crops, increased the area planted with rapeseed and switched to cultivation techniques that reduce tilling, according to the NFU.

Tilling and using slug pellets can control the pests, according to the NFU. Farmers should consider applying pellets around the time of planting, according to Glen.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net


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