Tuesday, June 23, 2015

grrr.. things are eating my corn!

I'm pretty clear that I can grow delicious food; I just don't really like it when the animals in the area figure that out, too!  I was checking on the grain corn experiment and I started noticing gaps in the rows of corn.  

There were two sorts of gaps - one is a plant or two missing from an otherwise-good row.  Digging around in the dirt where the plant should have been showed me that the field mice or moles had been making tunnels through the row of corn at that point, and I guess they think that a young corn plant is delicious.  this wasn't too bad; maybe 50 to 75 plants per acre.  Not thrilled about it, but what can you do?  

The other type of damage was both bigger, and odder.  Holes in the corn, roughly 8' in diameter, roughly circular.  There were something that could be called tracks in the area, but the dirt is so dry that I couldn't be sure.  Inside the circle I found dead corn plants, apparently pulled out by the roots.  

the plants are whole, and pretty close to the row they were planted in. 
 I don't think this was a deer or other herbivore because the corn plants would have been eaten, not just pulled out of the ground.  Some of the plants were missing the root portion, but I'm not clear if it got eaten, or if the plant pulled apart at ground level when it was uprooted.
incrimating black feather next to uprooted corn plant
 There are two suspects for this damage; one are the ravens and crows that are in the area.  they will often be seen out in the field, and I'm wondering if they're plucking the young corn plants out of the ground to get whatever is left of the seed, or maybe to eat teh roots.  there are some feathers in the area of dead corn.

The second is coyotes.  this is the time of year that coyote pups start venturing out, and a couple of dogs playing and wrestling in an area would cause this sort of damage as well.  The indistinct tracks might be coyote tracks, but what was definite was the scat that contained cherry pits.  Coyotes love cherries and will eat them given any opportunity.

Both of the suspects are there.  I'm pretty much resigned to just absorbing the damage for now.  I'm going to guess than I've lost 2 to 3 thousand plants (out of about a half-million planted) so on the grand scale of things its annoying, but not worth breaking out the rifle for.
click on the picture for a bigger version

No comments: