Tips For Corn and Berries

Protecting Corn

Corn - To protect seedlings scatter extra corn seeds along the edges of a newly planted corn patch, or in an adjoining area or bed. The corn on top of the soil will sprout first, tending to distract the birds until the main crop of garden corn is too big to be of interest. A similar technique is to plant a few oats with your corn. The oats germinate a day or so before the corn. Birds do not seem to like oat sprouts and this early, less desirable crop of seedlings seems to divert the birds' attention from the newly sprouting corn. This “delay” crop allows most of the corn to grow past the crucial bird-hunting time intact.
Using Mulch
Mulch - Use mulch to trick the birds. Put fresh green grass clippings down the rows of young corn so the birds are confused about which shoots are coming up. To be successful this must be done as shoots emerge using bright green grass clippings. This system must be renewed as the old grass clipping dry and turn brown.
Adjust Planting Times
Time plantings to foil the birds - Avoid the earliest corn varieties. The first extra-early corn is what the birds attack most greedily. Plant the later maturing corn-when there is lots of it sprouting fast in the neighborhood the birds are less likely to completely wipe out your crop.
Plant bird-resistant varieties
Research indicates that there appear to be significant correlations between resistance to bird damage and certain physical characteristics of sweet corn ears. Ears with heavy husks and/or husks that extend far past the kernels appear less susceptible to bird damage. Growers in blackbird-infested areas might try planting `Gold Dust' and `Advance', which both have those characteristics.[Jeff - I am not certain about corn varieties.]
Try a diversionary tactic
Set up a feeding station of purchased feed corn next to the corn patch so the birds will eat that instead of the newly planted seeds. And finally, for mature corn, tie small rubber bands over the end of each ear when the silks turn brown. This will keep corn safe from hungry beaks. After rinsing, save your pint-sized plastic freezer bags and place them over the corn ears and secure them with rubber bands. Paper bags work too! This tactic may work better than using just a small rubber band.

Protecting Fruits and Berries

Fruits and Berries - Plant other attractive berries to keep the birds from the fruit you want to eat. Sometimes if you have other crops of berries available at the same time as your favored crops, the birds will be attracted to those ``trap'' crops and leave your fruit alone. For example, June berries will draw birds away from cherries, mulberries will attract them away from raspberries, and wild cherries and elderberries will lure birds away from blackberries. To keep birds away from peaches and cherries plant borders of choke cherries, dogwood, mountain ash, mulberries or other bushes with very aromatic fruits and berries. Place them within ten feet of the fruit trees. Birds seem to prefer these over the peaches and cherries. Autumn olive, bittersweet, crabapple, elderberry, firethorn, hawthorn, highbush cranberry, holly, honeysuckle, sunflower and Virginia creeper are other good decoy plants birds love. The trick is to find a plant that has an attractive fruit or berry at the same time in the season as your bird-vulnerable food crop is ripe.
Warning – Some books recommend using red spheres covered with sticky material to control apple maggot flies. There have been some reports that songbirds are also attracted to these sticky spheres and can become fatally trapped. If you use these traps in your yard you'll want to keep a eye on them.

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