Effects of cultivar on rodent damage in Australian macadamia orchards

Eldridge, James Vincent, Whitehouse, Matthew, Elmouttie, David, & Hamilton, Grant (2012) Effects of cultivar on rodent damage in Australian macadamia orchards. Australian Journal of Crop Science, 6(6), pp. 1110-1115.

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The Black rat (Rattus rattus), a serious pest of Australian macadamia orchards has been estimated to cause up to 30% crop damage in Australian orchards. In recent years an increase in the number of commercially available cultivars has seen a change in orchard characteristics in Australia, primarily effecting fruiting and flowering patterns. This has been suggested to affect the feeding behaviour of rodents and in turn altered the damage process. In this study we compare the extent of damage in orchards containing one of three prevalent cultivars (A4/A16, A268 and HAES 344/741) and investigate the influence of these cultivars, particularly their distinctive fruiting traits, on rodent damage within the orchard. We demonstrate that the temporal pattern and extent of damage differs between cultivar types. Newer Australian macadamia cultivars tested in this study were found to be far more susceptible to rodent damage than the older Hawaiian developed cultivars, most likely due to an extended fruiting period and thinner shells. This has resulted in a more sustained period of crop damage than the patterns of crop damage observed in previous Australian studies. Crop damage caused by R. rattus is significantly higher in orchards that maintain high levels of canopy resources through the fruiting season and we postulate that this is due to the extended fruiting periods of the new cultivars used. The maintenance of canopy resource load in turn corresponds to high crop damage, in this study resulting in crop losses of up to 25%.

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ID Code: 51462
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Rattus rattus, crop damage, macadamia;, cultivar;, rodent.
ISSN: 1835-2707
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 05 Jul 2012 23:43
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2012 03:55

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