Title:  The Effect of Deer Browsing on Bearded and Unbearded Wheat Yield.
Author(s): Matthew T. Springer and Jacob L. Bowman - University of Delaware *
Year: 2008
Abstract: Wheat is an important agronomic crop that is a common winter food source for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in agricultural landscapes. Two types of wheat are grown, unbearded and bearded. Farmers believe bearded wheat deters deer browsing because of the long awns. In 2007, I investigated spatial and temporal browsing on the 2 types of wheat in Little Creek, Delaware in fields bordered on one side by a forest. I placed 600, 50 ft2 plots in the middle of 33 ft distance classes starting from the forested edge out to 200 ft. I systematically assigned 1 of 3 treatments (no protection, protected at planting, and protected just prior to head development) to the plots. Plots were protected using a 4ft welded-wire fence. I harvested a 3 ft2 area in the middle of each plot to determine the impact yield. Wheat type and protection treatment interacted to effect wheat yield (P = 0.0051). Bearded wheat had a greater yield than the unbearded wheat. Deer browsing prior to head development increased yield for both types of wheat. Our research demonstrated the positive impact of deer browsing on wheat yield but more research is needed to better elucidate the effect of awns on deer browse and the subsequent effect on wheat yield.

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