Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gophers Rule (?)

The attempts to annihilate gophers in agricultural fields and gardens reveal how resilient life can be. Gophers are industrious and fertile. These pesky subterranean rodents love to eat the roots of wild and domesticated plants alike. They must tunnel no matter what they eat in order to survive. A typical gopher's teeth grow 15 inches per year. If the they didn't burrow around, a gopher's teeth would grow into a long curve which would impale the base of their own skull.

They are as reticent at being killed as they are reluctant to tunnel. A farmer might put poison bait in the soil, in fake gopher tunnels made by a tractor-draw implement, over a 20-acre area. Yet this will only protect the center of the field for approximately two years. By then, the offspring of the gophers around the edge will have migrated into the "free" area. Gardeners face a more difficult problem. Gophers are territorial. They make plenty of babies (up to seven in each “brood”) who must stake out their own turf. Even extensive trapping, the Macabee trap is my favorite, is often compromised.

Only religious, consistent trapping (especially in the Spring when the young are trying to establish their new territory), is a possible solution. Trapping in your neighbors’ yards can help the invasion from the edges. Kill more gophers!

Let me know what you think.

Visit my web site to learn about my new book on drip irrigation and other gardening books.

NOTE: The comments section at the bottom of the post has disappeared. Click on the "___ Comments" button or the title under the "Blog Archives". Thanks, Robert

1 comment:

Gophers Limited said...

Hi Robert,
You are correct about the persistance of gophers though I am not in favor of mass poisoning as often some of the grain ends up on the surface when the tool is raised and also by moles that push it up because they do not eat plants or grain but worms and grubs.
As you say, trapping is the very best and I have found the best trapping method after 30 years of trapping gophers. That is the "surface trapping" method using the Cinch gopher trap. This method has been so effective that I have been able to convert large farms and vineyards away from poison and to this system. One of my sucesses is a 30,000 acre vineyard in San Louis Obisbo. If you or your readers are interested in checking this out please visit my site where you can see a video of how it works
Great to see you have a new book out Robert. Do you have a list of plants you feel gophers east last?
Best regards,
Thomas Wittman
Felton, CA