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Raccoon - Corn (back to raccoon home page)

Most raccoon damage to corn is concentrated during the milk stage of development (R3), but some damage also occurs before and after the milk stage on into maturity. Prior to the milk stage, raccoons may visit fields during the evening to “test” a few ears. Once the plants in a corn field reach the milk stage, raccoons will dramatically increase their rate of feeding for extended periods in that field each evening. Even though the milk stage for individual plants lasts only 7-10 days (the number will depend on environmental influences), the corn plants in an entire field may not progress through development simultaneously. Thus, the availability of ears in the milk stage of development in a particular field may extend longer than 7-10 days. Learn more about raccoon damage.

Raccoon damage often is associated with portions of fields bordered by woodlots. Competition for nutrients and sunlight from nearby trees can delay corn development along the edges of fields that border woodlots, so raccoons may initially feed on ears many rows into the field from the wooded edge. The raccoons will then follow the progression of corn development into the milk stage from the inner rows out towards the edge of the field. Some raccoon damage is characterized by downed stalks along a 2- to 3-row band. (top of page)


Depending on the size of individual raccoons and the height of the ear above ground level, raccoons will either stand on their hind legs and feed on the lower hanging ears on the stalk, or climb the stalk to reach the ear. In either case, the corn stalk will usually break. This method of feeding by raccoons results in a haphazard array of broken corn stalks, often lying in different directions. Some may describe this pattern as a very chaotic picture. Damage of this type often results in yield losses of 90-100% for the damaged area. Grain remaining on ears lying on the ground that is not consumed will rot or be eaten by other wildlife and cannot be harvested by the combine. With the exception of beaver, no other species of wildlife will cause damage to corn that consistently approaches as complete a loss in yield as will raccoons. (top of page)

 

 


Raccoons do not bite through the husk, but rather pull the husks open with their teeth and claws to expose the kernels. Husks will have a shredded appearance and cobs will appear masticated with many torn seed coats remaining on the cob. (top of page)


Corn cobs fed upon by raccoons on the ground often will have a muddied appearance (Figure 33). (top of page)


Upon close inspection, raccoon tracks may be visible on the leaves and husks – a result of mud or the milky corn residue covering their paws). (top of page)


Claw marks also may be visible on the stalk, leaves and ears.(top of page)

   
   

 


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