Gophers, a force to abide by

Gophers, a force to abide by

Home Forums Cultivating Truffles Gophers, a force to abide by

Viewing 7 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #3801
      AvatarFabrice Caporal
      Keymaster

      When we started our 26 acre orchard, almost 3 years ago, we had no idea that our biggest problem would be gophers (Wikipedia). To date we lost close to 150 trees to them, and we are trapping them at a 15 a day. Last spring we caught over 1,200 in less than 6 months.
      It is heart breaking to feel a 6' tree coming straight loose from the ground.
      It is heart breaking to feel a 6′ tree coming straight loose from the ground.

      We are an organic farm so the only way we found to manage them is trapping. We have tried many different traps, and in our conditions the best traps (better catch rate) are the Gophinator from Trapline Products. We use two sizes, the Gophinator and the Standard Mole traps for smaller holes.

      We realize that bating the trap is not necessary. The trick for good capture rate is to place the trap in wholes with fresh activity.

      We have invested a half time employee dedicated to trapping to keep constant pressure on the population. We are starting to see a reduction in the amount of mounds on the property but they are still doing damages. We have installed four owl boxes and raptor perches but they still remain unused.

      Some “old timers” suggested to make a trench around the perimeter of the orchard and fill it with broken glass to act as barrier. Have you heard of this method? I would think that would not stop the gophers from “crossing” above ground.

      So beware of gophers, they are not a force to ignored.

    • #3820
      AvatarElise Baker
      Participant

      Do you have a local rescue group for birds of prey? Here in the US if you provide a habitat a local wildlife rescue agency will release a bird on your property. Hawks and owls can be effective in keeping the populations down.

      • #3878
        AvatarFabrice Caporal
        Keymaster

        I had not thought about rescue birds of prey. This is a good idea. I will look into it. Thank you.

    • #3905
      AvatarSimon Cartwright
      Participant

      Hi Fabrice, we have been battling them for years. I do a 12′ min bare area around the orchard to make a predator friendly environment. We also keep the grass very short the other side of that bare area using a flail. This also helps with slugs. It seems if you get on top of them in spring you have a much better time of it.

       

      • #3909
        AvatarFabrice Caporal
        Keymaster

        Are you still loosing trees? If you are producing,  do you know if the gophers have an impact on your yield?

    • #3912
      AvatarSimon Cartwright
      Participant

      We haven’t lost a tree in about 5 years since we got really serious about them. We did a subsoil experiment on a row back in 2014 which created a gopher super highway right into our orchard. It took me about 18 months of trapping to get that back under control (removed 3-5 gophers a week during this time in just 50 trees). I now know their entry points into the orchard and hammer any burrowing critter the moment we see sign. They will effect production if you don’t control them as the root systems get damaged by their activity. We also see moles and voles which we also try and control as the moles make good runways for the voles (which eat truffle) as well as openings for ground wasps (Not fun when you run over one with the mower). We haven’t had ground squirrel yet but have lost a few truffle to red squirrels scratching them. As we have native truffle in PNW we have to take a control position. We will never eliminate them so the best we can do is make it as unfriendly as possible and be diligent in our control strategy. I know some have had success by hiring a professional crew to come and set hundreds of traps just to get the population back under control. We know with out soils that we do have to do some from of aeration on a regular basis so we are currently trialing a power tiller to only shallow till. We are hoping this will give us the results we are after without giving the critters a new path in. I did at one point think of digging a fence similar to a rabbit proof one into the field (2′ deep 1/4″ S/S mesh) but abandoned the idea based on cost and no numbers to base an ROI on. Have you talked to your local university extension service about control in local conditions?

    • #3931
      AvatarKaren Passafaro
      Participant

      We have put in an owl box a few years ago hoping a family of owls would move in and help control the critters.  But no owls have taken residence to date.

    • #4042
      AvatarFabrice Caporal
      Keymaster

      This year we finally had one of the 4 boxes host a family of barn owls. Yeah!

    • #4106
      AvatarKrista Hansen
      Participant

      A family of Barn Owls, awesome!

    • #4107
      AvatarElise Baker
      Participant

      I missed that post in July as well. Congrats on your owls. I had previously posted that sometime the local wildlife rescue organizations will need to rehome owls, hawks, or other birds of prey and will do so for free if you provide appropriate living conditions for them.

Viewing 7 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.