Every year the time roles around for the rows to come out. Crop farmers climb into there combines for a solid month or more. This period in the Midwest generally occurs during mid-fall or October and early November. It’s a major economic boost for the agriculture industry and it’s when all the hard work pays off. But….does everyone benefit from the crops coming out? In a way, it’s a trick question.
Lets talk about the effects of crop harvesting on wildlife habitat and behavior. Row cropping is major food source for wildlife species during the majority of the year. Soy beans and corn are most prominent but others might include milo, sorghum, wheat, along with many others. Even though the crops are harvested, small remnants of the plant are left on the ground as waste. This may only seem like a small amount of food, but on a large scale food source it adds up to a substantial amount. Corn and soy bean leftovers are generally enough to get the neighborhood wildlife through the winter especially if they have a secondary food source such as wintergreen plots or acorns in the timber.
Let’s talk about behavioral differences we notice in the wildlife due to the changing environment. First and foremost, they have to travel! Plain and simple there’s just less food to go around which forces animal species to move to secondary sources to maintain body weight. When crops are harvested it also shrinks the ground cover for wildlife. Eight foot tall corn was a pretty convenient household for the whitetail deer before it was harvested. Now the species becomes more exposed and must resort to other forms of cover for safety such as timber and nightfall.
The fact is the crops have top come out but it definitely has effects on the local wildlife movements and behavior. These effects aren’t necessarily negative, but I’d say its a little bit of an inconvenience. These behavioral changes have been in place for a very long time and the native wildlife have adapted to live in conjunction with annual farming activities and operations.