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Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Corn Diseases, Insects, and Pests (page 4 of 4)

by National Gardening Association Editors


Unlike four-footed critters, birds do as much good in the garden by eating insect pests as they do damage, but some species have a weakness for corn. There are a few ways to keep birds away from the corn at each stage of the game.

After planting, cover each row with a long strip of chicken wire, bending it in an inverted U-shape about 10 inches high in the middle. The close mesh keeps out prying beaks, and by the time the seedlings touch the top of the wire, the birds are no longer interested. You can remove the wire and store it for the next season.

Don't bother with scarecrows. Although they might be fun for the kids to put together, they'll only serve as a handy perch for most birds. However, there are other effective ways to scare birds away. Try putting a realistic life-size plastic owl on a tall post near the corn. The owl will ward off birds, and may help with neighborhood mice and rabbits as well. Moving the owl frequently will keep critters from getting used to it too quickly.

If you can keep birds away from your newly planted corn, they shouldn't bother the crop again until the ears start to fill out. Then you need an effective bird-scarer or chaser. Rig up noisemakers or aluminum pie plates around the corn to frighten them. A cat or dog near the garden often does the trick. Flashy mylar tape and scare-eye balloons can help, too.

One time-consuming, but surefire bird barrier is to tie a paper bag around each ear of corn, but only after the corn has been pollinated. This also can ward off invading insects, but it's too much work for a large cornfield. When it rains, the bags break and need replacing; and when it's windy, they often blow off.

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