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Minimizing Deer Damage in Vegetable Crops

Julie Kikkert, Team Leader, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: July 15, 2014

Minimizing Deer Damage in Vegetable Crops
A comprehensive plan is needed to manage deer on your farm. Understanding the biology, habitat and feeding habits is a good first step. See the fact sheets listed in the resource section below. Your management plan will depend on the size of the farm or field you wish to protect, your location, tolerance for damage and the resources you have to direct towards this project. Here are some of the options:

EXCLUSION
To deter deer during the vegetable growing season, single-strand electric fences can be used in combination with a repellent. Alternatively, pieces of aluminum foil with peanut butter when placed at three to four foot intervals along the fence attract the deer to touch the electric fence (photo). High-visibility, electric polytape fences on fiberglass stakes provide another low-cost, portable design that can effectively reduce deer damage to vegetable crops. The fact sheets listed below provide detailed information on these and other types of fencing.

SCARE DEVICES
The key to using these devices is to move them every day if possible. Look to see where the deer are coming into the field and seek to break their habit of coming there. CVP specialist Robert Hadad has had good success with Rubber Coyotes on his property (photo). The cost is about $55 each, and he used a total of 4 decoys for a 2 acre field. Other devices include scare balloons, scarecrows, noise cannons and the like. Deer become habituated to these devices in a few days.

REPELLENTS
One local grower reports success in using highly fragrant deodorant soap in combination with the electric fence. A variety of chemical repellents are labeled for use in New York. The repellents work best when deer pressure is light, however, some damage must be tolerated. Repellents should be applied before feeding is likely to occur. Repellents are cost-effective on small acreages. They may need to be reapplied every 3-4 weeks. Costs may be reduced by mixing with other crop protectants (make sure to read the label first).

BUFFER STRIPS
Deer prefer certain types of crops such as snap beans, dry beans and soybeans. Planting a buffer strip of such crops may limit feeding to those crops, and keep the deer out of your other vegetables.

POPULATION CONTROL
Managing deer population will go a long way towards minimizing damage to vegetables and other crops. Techniques include habitat management and hunting. Contraceptive methods are costly and the effectiveness on population reduction is controversial. The NYS DEC will help landowners with a management plan. The Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) seeks to help landowners implement site specific deer management on their lands. Under the program, the DEC issues a special permit and a determined number of deer tags to a landowner or resource manager, or a group of landowners or resource managers, whose property is in need of site specific deer management efforts. DMAP permits are valid for use only during the open deer hunting seasons and can only be used by licensed hunters. For many, this is the "right" time to harvest deer. Only deer without antlers or having antlers measuring less than three inches in length may be taken under the authority of a DMAP permit. Applications for permits valid during the fall big game hunting seasons must be postmarked by September 1. More information on the DMAP program can be obtained at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/33973.html or by calling your local DEC office.

RESOURCES
2014 Cornell Vegetable Guidelines, Chapter 5, page 26
http://veg-guidelines.cce.cornell.edu/5frameset.html

Cornell White Tailed Deer Management Fact Sheet:
http://wildlifecontrol.info/pubs/Documents/Deer/Deer_factsheet.pdf

Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage — 1994: Deer
http://www.icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/mam_d25.pdf

New York’s Deer Management Program
http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7211.html


Minimizing Deer Damage in Vegetable Crops (pdf; 635KB)

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JOB POSTING: Onion Crop Scout

Be a Vital Part of New York Onion Production!

We are looking for someone who appreciates agriculture to scout commercial onion fields in Oswego Co. and/or Wayne Co. for 13 weeks during the summer, maximum 19 hours/week, who would return to the seasonal position annually.

As an Onion Crop Scout for the Cornell Vegetable Program (CVP), you will independently scout 11 commercial onion fields collecting data on insect pests, diseases, weeds and crop stage/quality. Scouting data will be summarized into a preliminary report which is finalized by Cornell's Onion Specialist. Growers use the scouting reports to inform their spray decisions, which enables an integrated approach to pest management. Your hard work will ensure grower engagement, implementation of research-based recommendations, and early detection of emerging issues. It is the "beating heart" of CVP's onion program.

Pay: $18.50/hr. No benefits. Personal mileage will be reimbursed at the federal rate.

Key Qualifications & Skills:
  • High School diploma and 6 months experience in an agriculture setting, or the equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Must be able to meet the travel requirements of the position and have reliable transportation as well as have and maintain a valid and unrestricted New York State driver's license.
  • Visual concentration and attention to detail are required to detect pests and pest damage.
  • Able to work independently in collecting and summarizing data.
  • Must be able to work outdoors in all types of weather.
  • Proven experience in communicating effectively, both written and oral.
  • Preferred: Experience working with plants, plant disease and other pest identification.
Training will include being accompanied by a veteran onion scout for the first season with the intention of scouting independently in the second year, and ideally for several more years after.

Flexible on start and end dates, day(s) of week you work, and whether Oswego or Wayne or both counties are scouted. Our priority is finding someone who will return to the position annually.

Read details about the Onion Crop Scout position.

To apply (resume and cover letter): http://tiny.cc/Onion_Scout_WDR_00043345

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