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Are Rodents Destroying Your Crops? What Are Your Pest Control Options?

September 5, 2017

Are Rodents Destroying Your Crops? What Are Your Pest Control Options?

The life of a farmer can be a richly rewarding one. After all, without the tireless work of livestock and crop farmers, the U.S. food supply would come to a screeching halt.

However, many farmers can find themselves feeling as though they're in a constant battle against nature. From spring floods and frosts to summer tornadoes, droughts and heat waves, making it through an entire planting season without losing a substantial portion of your crop to weather-related events can seem like a rousing success.  

But while you can't do much to control the weather, you can help protect against another big risk to your crops—pest damage. Read on to learn more about how rodents tend to target many common crops and how you can most effectively eradicate these nuisances to protect your livelihood.  

Risks of Rodent Infestations

Rodents are singularly responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of economic losses to American farmers each year, including damage to storage facilities, and even planting and harvesting equipment.

Because rodents—more particularly, the fleas and other parasites which tend to follow them—can be carriers of a variety of dangerous and potentially deadly diseases, keeping your crops as rodent-free as possible can be crucial to ensuring your crops remain marketable.

What Rodents Seek

Rodents like mice, rats and voles often make their homes in crop farms because they provide the perfect well-rounded habitat. With abundant sources of high-calorie food available, including corn, soybeans, peanuts or grains, along with barns, silos and grain cellars to provide predator-free shelter, keeping rodents away from your farm can seem like an impossible task.

You may wonder whether your efforts are better devoted towards simply increasing your yield rather than trying to protect your crops. However, even rodents who are well-fed from your corn, soybeans or other crops can find the time to wreak havoc in other areas of your farm, making complacency a potentially dangerous choice. 

Many of the electrical components of modern engines are coated with an environmentally-friendly soy-based plastic in lieu of crude-based plastic coatings. While this soy-based plastic is both cheaper and better for the environment, it can also be far more tempting to rodents, who can chew through these wires and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage in short order. 

Rodents can also cause structural damage to your storage facilities. Because mice and rats have the ability to squeeze through openings far smaller than their apparent size, spaces you may have assumed were fairly impervious to rodents, such as locked silos, can still be accessible.

Long-term exposure to rat droppings and urine can slowly erode solid surfaces, including concrete, and render your farm's outbuildings less secure.  

Protecting Against Rodent Damage 

Usually, you'll need to employ a multi-phase approach to eradicating rodents on your farm; simply applying some pesticides or setting out traps may put a temporary dent in your rodent population, but is unlikely to lead to long-term changes in their behavior or habitat. 

Many have found that an approach that first disrupts the rodents' reproductive cycle and then uses targeted poisons or traps to kill off any stragglers can have a significant impact on the number of rodents inhabiting your farm. 

Your first step should be to take a detailed survey of your property to see what resources your rodents are likely taking advantage of. You'll then be able to work with a pest control company to see how you can compromise these resources during the most crucial times. 

For example, removing the rodents' primary food source during mating season can result in smaller litters, thus slowing their seemingly exponential growth rate. Impeding rodents' ability to store food for winter can thin out the population as soon as cold weather begins to set in. 

You'll also want to eliminate some of the more appealing hiding or nesting spots. This means if a corner of your barn is filled with old equipment, grain bags or other assorted items you haven't had the time or energy to throw out or give away, you'll want to do some cleaning before you move onto the next phase of your rodent extermination process.

The more exposed any rodents feel while attempting to seek shelter on your property, the more likely they will be to move on and find homes elsewhere. 

Once you've done what you can to make your farm less hospitable to rodents, you'll want to pull out the big guns, including traps and pesticides. Placing traps in "transit corridors," or the areas identified by your exterminator as common areas for rodents to access food and shelter, can allow you to protect your crops at all hours of the day and night.

Meanwhile, poisons can lead rodents to a quick death. Rats and mice can be tough to successfully poison due to their tendency to cautiously sample only a small bit of any new food; however, tasteless and odorless anticoagulant medications like warfarin can be quite effective due to their quick-acting properties.

By taking these steps, you'll be well on your way to a rodent-free farm, helping you reduce your stress while ultimately increasing your crop yield and profit.

For more information, or to speak with a pest control agency, contact American Pest Control Inc.