Many parts of Ontario experience significant damage to corn due to birds.  Often, birds will feed on developing corn ears immediately following pollination and during the early stages of grain fill. Birds are very attracted to the developing soft kernels as a food source.

Large flocks of birds can cause an incredible amount of damage to corn in a very short time frame. This can lead to significant revenue losses and poor grain quality. Birds often target one hybrid more severely than another because of factors related to hybrid canopy density, ear height, husk cover, and timing of pollination. Damage is usually heaviest along field edges and nearby wooded areas, but can encompass entire fields.

Symptoms include ripped, shredded husks and damaged kernels on the cobs. Damaged cobs turn brown or black once molds begin infecting the damaged tissue. Such feeding damage predisposes the ears to the development of various ear molds and rots, some of which may consequently lead to the development of dangerous mycotoxins.

Crop management strategies for susceptible fields include selecting a portfolio of hybrids that demonstrate lower ear placement, adequate husk cover, maximum maturity, and tolerance to higher plant populations for greater canopy density and maximum husk cover. Other effective bird deterrent remedies include noise makers such as propane fired bird bangers and electronic callers that can simulate callings from predator birds.

All of these management factors will help alleviate susceptibility; however, no perfect remedy exists for complete prevention and control for susceptible areas.

For assistance in selecting hybrids that demonstrate characteristics that are less attractive for bird sensitive areas, talk to your local Maizex representative.

Dave Emery, CCA-ON
Maizex Seeds District Sales Manager, Southwestern Ontario
Twitter: @emeryda