Originally published April 3, 2013
Dr. David Kerns and I have been receiving telephone calls regarding bird damage in early emerged corn.
Bird damage in Louisiana is typically caused by either the red winged black bird or common grackle. Corn planting coincides with nesting season for both species and adult birds are foraging for food to feed their young. Grackles typically nest in wind breaks and tree lines often running down the exterior of fields and red winged black birds will nest closet to the ground along ditch banks and large weeds. Fields bordered by trees and large ditches will typically have bird damage issues in early corn.
Shallow planting (less than 2in) and cool weather can also have significant impacts on bird damage. Shallow planted corn makes the seed easier for the birds to excavate and cool weather stalls seedling growth leaving corn more susceptible to damage. If bird damage is an issue and replanting is necessary, there are a few options producers have to mitigate damage.
Use of the humane bird repellent seed treatment Avipel is an option many producers have used in the past to deter bird damage. By focusing on the learning ability of birds, Avipel teaches birds to avoid treated seed through repetition. Planting or replanting an early growth hybrid can also help the corn crop outrun bird damage. If bird damage is a seasonal issue an alternative may be planting a crop such as soybeans along tree lines or nesting sites where birds typically congregate. Producers may also want to wait for increased soil temperatures which helps decrease germination time and allows corn grow through the susceptible stage faster (4 inch corn). Ensuring uniform emergence in fields adjacent to one another may help diffuse damage and avoid localizing damage to one field.
For more information or if you have any questions or concerns please contact Sebe Brown, or Drs. David Kerns or Julien Beuzelin.
Sebe Brown Cell: 318-498-1283 Office: 318-435-2903
Dr. David Kerns Cell: 318-439-4844 Office: 318-435-2157
Dr. Julien Beuzelin Cell: 337-501-7087 Office: 318-473-6523
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture