Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear Deer: Please leave our Burrus Crops Alone!

Many recent field visits have been the result of dear.  You would think that this injury is easy to diagnose, but, in some cases, it can be tricky.

Deer tend to bite off the newest growth in a field. In beans, the may give plants a stunted, almost chemical injury type appearance when viewed from the road. However, a closer examination will show that new growth has been clipped off. 

Obvious deer feed injury to soybeans
"Not so" obvious deer feeding injury to soybean
Corn recovering from such injury often takes on a “telescope-like” appearance as new growth emerges from injured regions one set of whorl leaves at a time. When more mature, ears will be gnawed off at the tips. The presence of hoof marks around such injury can help with diagnosis.
 Hoof print near a corn plant with deer feeding injury

Corn that has been fed on by a deer and will lead to "telescoping" of regrowth
So What Can Be Done? Management may, in some extreme cases, require the purchase of a nuisance permit from a state Department of Natural Resources. However, in many cases this is too little too late and in many more – hunting the pest will not solve this or future problems. Repellents may also be an option. However, the effectiveness of repellents is pretty questionable in most cases. Some have occasionally recommended that an alternate food source be broadcast (cracked corn for instance). In the most extreme cases of wildlife crop injury, this may be an option. However, many agronomists approach this option with apprehension because they know that the barrier between distracting wildlife from a crop and attracting wildlife to a crop is very, very thin. Keeping nearby waste areas mowed is perhaps one of the better recommendations for managing wildlife. Mowing creates a barrier between the crop and wildlife habitat. More importantly, mowing reduces cover and exposes wildlife to predators.

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