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White-tailed Deer - Soybeans (back to white-tailed deer home)

Most damage to soybeans by white-tailed deer occurs as light to moderate browsing spread out over large portions of the field. Deer tend to move through a field as they feed and do not typically stand in a single spot for long periods of time. Except during the very early stages of soybean plant development, deer feed only on part of the plant and move on. The result of this random browsing generally results in only light to moderate yield loss. However, in rare cases where local deer densities are unusually high, repeated feeding by deer in a specific field, translating to repeated damage to individual plants, can result in severe damage to individual plants with those plants producing minimal yield. Learn more about deer damage to soybeans.


After emergence, deer bite off soybean plants down to a stub. (top of page)

The specific location of the damage will determine the resulting yield loss. Damage occurring above the first node will release the remaining axillary buds from dominance and will not result in yield loss. The resultant growth from this type of damage is a double-stemmed plant.

Damage occurring below the first node effectively kills the plant. At this stage of plant development, damage caused by deer can be confused with damaged caused by other species. (top of page)

Because deer lack upper incisors, the bitten stem almost always will have a rough appearance, which can only be observed upon close inspection. Damage caused by rabbits andgroundhogs will always be a clean, angled cut. (top of page)

Deer damage to soybean plants from the V4 stage of development and throughout the reproductive stages of growth, while the soybean plants are still green and succulent. Damage is limited to the uppermost leaflets and not the soybean pods.

At the R6 stage through harvest, limited deer damage to pods can occur. (top of page)



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