I planted rows of sweet corn a few days ago, and yesterday I was happy to see that it was up. I planted two seeds two inches apart, once every foot in the rows - to be thinned to one plant every foot later. I think every seed sprouted.
Today, here's what I found - the corn is gone, all of it. I had forgotten that last year I saw a robin going down the rows right after the corn came up, using each new sprout to locate, dig out, and eat the seed underneath. Last year I saw what was happening before many plants were lost, and I tied strips cut from plastic grocery bags to the string over each corn row. Those moved with the wind, and the robin(s) did no more damage. This year I forgot all about that, and lost all the corn seedlings.
I've grown a garden at this house for 22 years, and last year was the first time this happened. I BET it's the same bird, or birds, remembering this trick learned last year. Pretty sharp, but pretty ungrateful too considering how I throw worms to the robins that hang around while I'm weeding, and I leave cut pieces of white string in the garden for the robins to use in building their nests. Ah, well.
You can see from the evenly-spaced holes down this row where some of my corn seedlings WERE.
Replanting (and adding plastic-bag wind strips to the rows). I should have remembered - the robin sure did!
I'm impressed by the robin, too. The real work was in measuring and laying out the rows, and that's not lost. I've got plenty of seeds and 78-day corn planted now will get harvested the first week of September instead of the last week of August as planned. No problem.
I have a mockingbird that is eating my tomatoes, on the vine. The Earthboxes are right beside the house, but the bird is still digging into the tomatoes. I have lost as many Mormotaro tomatoes as I've picked. I've started leaving the pecked tomatoes on the plant. I'm hoping that the partially eaten tomatoes will ferment, the bird will eat, then be left with a hangover and decide that tomatoes are not good to eat after all. : )
My bird-in-the-corn situation isn't as funny as it used to be. I replanted eight rows of corn day before yesterday. Yesterday it rained all day, and this morning I found that a total of about 15 feet of seed in 5 different rows had already been dug up and eaten. I have no idea how the bird(s) knew where to dig, as the seeds hadn't sprouted yet.
Today I replanted the latest damage and tied strips from plastic grocery bags on the strings above my corn rows, hoping that will work as it did last year.
I THOUGHT is was a robin doing this, since that's what I saw last year. Now I'm not so sure. On top of the soil where the seeds have been dug up, there are shattered pieces of these rock-hard, treated, pink corn seeds. I haven't seen any crows or blue jays around, and I don't think smaller birds could crunch these things. Heck, I couldn't bite one without shattering a tooth.
Our fields are full of short-tailed pasture rats, I've had an Eastern Wood Rat (pack rat) in the barn before, our trees are full of squirrels both red and grey, and we have some chipmunks and voles around. If it's rodents instead of birds getting my corn seeds then I've got a real problem.
Can you get some Remay cloth or other kind of row cover? I use veil material (tulle) that I buy cheap at Walmart. This keeps the birds from getting to the seeds until they are up. I don't think varmints like rats, chipmunks, squirrels, etc. would like to go under them but who knows. If you pin the mesh or cover down it should help. Maybe try it in a small area to see if it works. It must be very frustrating to keep losing your replantings. I use the cloth on beans, peas, soybeans, squash and cucumbers and it seems to help. My challenge with the cucumber seeds is cutworms and slugs. Slugs love string beans as well. There's always something!
Do you have a live trap? I would bait one of those to see who is stealing your corn. I don't believe it is robins. Its probably your rat(s) or possibly raccoon, chipmonk or even skunks. Take a close up picture of the hole dug (corn removed), then google what type of hole each will dig. I had a similar problem last year and figured out by the type of digging that was done that it was a raccoon. We then set the trap and caught the bugger and transported his little bottom far away from here. Its hard to fight an enemy that you can't identify. Hope this helps...
I've had to give up - won't be able to grow any sweet corn this year. I've replanted two and three times, used up 1000 seeds, and now have no more seeds to replant. It's a real shame because my corn harvest is an annual event for our extended family. Our two married daughters who live locally bring the grandkids, and we all work together harvesting, blanching, and packaging ears of sweet corn to fill the freezers of three families.
This morning, almost all the seeds have been dug up and eaten. I no longer believe it's robins, either. The pink, treated, hard corn seeds are shattered with pieces strewn around, and the muddy ground shows tracks of 3 or 4 claws on small feet. Maybe bird claws I guess, but I don't think so.
I'll show these pictures to the folks at our University Extension and to biologists at our Conservation Department and see what they think. Your opinions and guesses here as to what ate my corn are very welcome, too.
The best thing so far is that I read last night that American farmers have soaked corn seeds in turpentine since colonial times to make them unpalatable to varmints. That should work - turpentine is just pine tar and a short soaking shouldn't hurt the seeds any. NEXT YEAR.
I pick my tomatoes as soon as they turn color on the bottom. I let them ripe in the kitchen.
I have 2 birds that like to peck on the tomatoes. But they will not do it if they are not ripe.
These birds are only interested on the perfectly round red tomatoes 2" large. They leave alone the yellow and all the other tomato shapes !
I did plant extra for the birds ... but I just don't want to let them have my "precious"!
I might have lost 10 tomatoes to the birds this year ... that's all
Ozark, this is terrible. I'm not sure what it is but I'm thinking along the lines of a rodent. I can't even imagine sowing all those seeds and having them eaten before they even have a chance to sprout. : (
Ozark, what a crazy situation. But I've been there. I never did figure out if it was the @#$% pasture rats of the %$#@ mocking birds (or crows). Something was plucking out my seeds and seedlings as soon as I planted.
I think it was Calalily who suggested using the spun bond frost covers just on the ground and anchored with bricks to keep the crows from plucking out the seeds and seedlings. Just until the seedlings get up and going. It was not much of an expense--just a little time consuming to put down and then take up again after the seedlings were up. But it works!
I don't know how to link to a post, and this isn't the exact post where she told me to do that, but Post #8931838 shows what she told me to do.