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Deer Damage Can Hit Crops HardDeer Damage Can Hit Crops Hard

Where deer are plentiful, they can take over a portion of field.

Tom Bechman 1

August 28, 2013

2 Min Read

The outside few rows looked fine. But there was too much sunlight shining through to be normal. A few rows in, there was a rectangular patch the size of an average farm toolshed where corn was two feet tall. There were only a few ears on any stalks.

"It's deer feeding damage," explains Dennis Bowman, Extension specialist with the University of Illinois. This particular spot happened to be on the Farm Progress Show grounds near Decatur, Ill. There is a large lake nearby and deer are so plentiful they actually carve their own trails from brushy, wooded area out to the fields.


"We've seen this before," he says. "The deer begin feeding early in the season, and keep nibbling as stalks try to regrow. You even see some stalks that try to put an ear where the tassel should be. There usually aren't any kernels on it. Plants are totally disrupted because deer continue feeding on them as the season progresses."

While it may not contribute to a large loss overall on field average, it depends upon the size of the field and the number of spots where deer feed. Where deer damage was worst, such as in this spot, it reminded one of 2012, where yield was 0 to 10 bushels per acre and corn was two to four feet tall because of drought, not deer damage. The end result was the same – no corn to harvest in those spots.

The problem is that if you farm near one of these areas where there is a large population of deer, there is little you can do about it to protect the crop, Bowman says. If it's widespread and severe enough, you may collect crop insurance, particularly in you have revenue-based insurance. Most of the time, though, averaged over the whole field, it may not allow crop insurance to kick in.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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