31 Aug, 2016
Yield loss is not the only problem associated with snails, at least not
for growers in Australia.
China – currently the world’s largest importer of barley – has
expressed frustration at the number of snails being found in export
consignments from Australia, culminating in a decision by China to ban produce
from certain exporters.
“We’ve worked really hard to get access to certain markets,” said
Grains Industry Market Access Forum manager Tony Russell. “Retaining market
access in all crop types is something we constantly need to be working on.”
He said the industry needed to work together to deliver what the
Chinese market demanded. “They want greater focus on snail management,” he
said, suggesting the first step would be working towards standardised testing
systems in Australia and China, followed by giving Australian growers a clearer
picture about Chinese demands, and how best to achieve them.
“That may come in the form of changing harvest practices, or on-farm
Of most concern is the small pointed conical snail, which together with
the white Italian snail has been a pest of concern in South Australia for
decades. They’re now spreading into Western Australia too, where the effect of
snails on yield loss alone is now estimated at AU$6m a year.
But crop loss does not reflect the full story; stories abound of snails
clogging header sieves during harvest. The Chinese ban has merely added to the
Feed barley standards have now been tightened, with a threshold of just
two snails per half-litre, down from ten previously. The new standards have
been through two rounds of consultation.
Data from CBH, one of Western Australia’s main grain handlers, showed
that over the last five years, the number of snails detected has doubled in
number every year.