Wildlife damage to corn can be an aggravation to the hard-working farmers. There are various kinds of wild animals that are attracted to the sweet flavor of corn. Although growers consider these critters to harm the cost of their business, they tend to ignore the problem since they don’t know what animals eat field corn. Read on to have a deeper understanding of how each wild animal damage your farm.
What animals eat field corn?
Sweet corn is the favorite of numerous critters, such as deer, raccoons, birds, and so on. Each type of animal may damage at any growth point of the corn field, but most of them feed on ears of corn that are mature, usually right before you are ready to harvest.
More specific information about identifying what animals eat field corn will be mentioned below.
Deer begins dinning on or tramping down corn throughout the growing stages. Husks will be clipped at the end, so damage to the ears of corn during their development results in telescoping appearance as they mature.
Deer also damage corn at reproductive phases and mostly on the silk stage, milk stage, or maturity. During the silk stage, deer bite the tender corn silks while they scrape kernels off the husk using their lower incisors during milking. They can even smash mature corn stalks, take the entire corncob in their mouth and run off into the woods with it.
Deer are fairly big animals and often will leave us several signs of their presence. Typical symptoms include some stalks knocked down and lying in the same direction. This is caused by deer running through the area rather than feeding on the corn. Furthermore, plants along field edges and adjacent to woods are the most vulnerable.
Raccoons wreak havoc on sweet corn primarily at the reproductive stage and continue until harvest. They climb cornstalks to reach the ears, break the stalks, strip the ears, and partially eat the cob. Damage to corn caused by raccoons will pull down in various directions resulting in shredded husks and muddy cobs.
Normally, the number of knocked down stalks is not as much as those caused by deer. The amount of wooded area in cornfield can be an important factor in the intensity of damage caused by raccoons.
Corn damaged by beavers is not difficult to be identified. Stalks are cleanly cut at roughly a 45° angle and removed. Other signs that immediately catch the eye are drag trails where a beaver carries clipped stalks from corn fields to water.
Squirrels and small mammals
These critters cause corn damage both early and late in the growing season. Squirrels are relatively messy, so when corn is damaged by squirrels and small mammals, seeds are dug up and fed on with parts of kernels scattered all over the around. Digging up seeds typically occurs prior to emergence and into early emergence.
The most favored of squirrels is the hearts of the kernel. Moreover, these critters damage corn plants that are close to the wood because they are able to flee quickly to their shelter, such as woods.
Crows and other kinds of birds seem to particularly be appealed by developing kernels at the milk stage and reproductive phases of corn growth. Compared to squirrels that dig at one side, birds often dig around the entire seedling before pulling.
Birds come to eat insects on the corn and stay to strip ears of kernels. The clear evidence that identifies birds as the offenders is a cup-like hole appearance of kernels because of birds pecking. Birds often damage corn in a nearby wooded area but can cover throughout a large field.
Even though some evidence shows that wild turkeys damage corn but this is not usually the case. They are most likely consuming insects and feeding on husks opened by other animals.
Corn earthworm damage is an annual occurrence. They have lengthwise stripes and vary greatly in color, ranging from green, pink to black.
A corn earthworm moth lays eggs on the silks of corn, then hatch into the worm. The worm migrates into the ear to dine on the corn kernels.
Control corn damaging while maximizing profit for the growers is not a problem that can be solved overnight because it requires careful planning and management. Consequently, identifying what is eating my corn is the first step to control efficiently these species.