Hazelnut Vertebrate Management
Birds can cause a substantial impact on yield by eating or pecking the nuts before harvest. Stellar jays and crows feed on ripening nuts. Flocks will congregate in hazelnut orchards and can have a substantial impact on yield. Wild turkeys will also feed on nuts in the fall and buds during the winter months.
Possible methods of controlling birds in orchards include physical exclusion, visual repellants and audible bird scare devices. Understanding the birds feeding behaviour can help when planning a control strategy.
CAUTION: The use of audible bird scare devices (ABSD) is regulated by the “Farm Practices protection (Right to Farm) Act”. Several local governments have noise bylaws dealing with ABSD including, Delta, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Surrey and Abbotsford. Check with your municipal government area
Information on other types of bird control available can be found by visiting the following website: “Integrated Bird Management”
As a general rule, multiple methods will be required to manage problem bird populations in orchards, and these should be initiated early. Vary the timing, placement and type of device throughout the season to avoid acclimation of birds to the repellant.
Deer occasionally cause serious damage on hazelnuts. They feed on the foliage, buds or nuts of many and this can impact growth and yield. Bucks will also rub antlers against tree trunks, damaging bark.
- Contact repellents- are applied directly to plants and repel deer by imparting an unpleasant taste. Some nut growers have found hanging bar soaps from trees around orchards to be helpful in deterring deer (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/12-009.htm)
- Several types of fences are available for use around orchards, including permanent woven wire, mesh and electrical fences. These may be most economical for orchards in areas with large populations of deer where the likelihood of damage is high.
- Auditory and visual repellants- (propane cannons, strobe lights, sirens, etc.) can be effective in scaring deer off when they first appear, however deer generally become accustomed to them over the long term. Dogs contained in the orchard using invisible electric fencing are sometimes used to chase deer away. Odour or taste repellents are also available to manage deer in orchards.
Raccoons can be a significant problem in hazelnut orchards and can remove maturing nuts from several acres of trees before harvest. They may also break the branches when climbing trees to feed on nuts.
- Physical exclusion - There are no poisonous bait formulations registered against raccoons. Some growers of vegetables and other crops have found electric fences to be effective in deterring raccoons. These should be at least two-wire fences, with wires spaced 15 and 30 cm above the ground, although a three-wire fence, with wires spaced 10, 20 and 33cm above the ground, may provide better protection. Raccoons may also be hunted with an appropriate permit
Squirrels, mice, voles and other rodents feed on nuts, roots and tree bark near the ground. Squirrels eat ripening nuts and carry mature nuts away. Mice and voles are often only a problem when populations are very high, as populations are often kept in check by their many natural predators.
- Cultural techniques - Regularly mow grasses in and around orchards to 8-15 cm. This is typically done in hazelnut plantings to facilitate harvest and will help to remove cover needed by voles to breed and hide from predators. However, avoid mowing techniques (e.g., sickle bar mowers) that leave a thatch layer. Remove all mulch, sod, nuts and other debris at least 60 cm from the base of trunks or tree rows.
- Physical repellants - Mouse guards can be used to protect the bark of newly planted trees from vole damage. These should be buried 5 cm deep in the soil, and require regular monitoring to ensure they are working and not interfering with root or bark development.
- Baiting/hunting- Where cultural practices are insufficient, toxic baits are available for use against mice in orchards. Baits are not registered for use against squirrels or raccoons. Squirrels may be managed with traps or through hunting, however, growers and landowners are responsible for ensuring all relevant legislation is followed:
For more information see BCAGRI Production Guide Supporting Documents.
Find downloadable supporting documents featuring: Metric Tables, Pesticide Regulations and Safety, Sprayer Calibration, and Sprayer Equipment