Tomato Plants & Deer

Overview

Tomatoes (Lycopersicum esculentum) are grown across the world for their succulent flavor and flesh. The fruit is eaten raw, cooked or baked. The ease with which tomatoes are grown and the quantity of fruit they produce make this a favored plant by commercial and home gardeners alike. Besides humans, tomatoes are also eaten by deer that can cause extensive damage to vegetable fields and patches alike if left to roam about freely.

Deer

Although a browsing deer is entertaining to watch, this harmless looking animal causes large amounts of economic and aesthetic damage to backyard gardens and fields. Deer eat tomatoes directly from plants, leaving a trampled mess of branches, leaves and stems behind, and putting an end to months of hard work. According to The Review newspaper, an adult deer eats between 7 and 10 lbs. of fruit and vegetables daily, causing damage worth millions of dollars to homeowners annually. These pests damage backyard plants including cucumbers, chard, beans, lettuce, basil, summer squash and tomatoes.

Identification

Deer do not have upper incisors, which is why the stems they pluck tomatoes from have a shredded and rough surface. These pests, unlike rodents that leave narrow teeth mark on stems, and rabbits that leave 45-degree cuts on browsed stems, strip the entire bark because they cannot form straight cuts.

Prevention/Solution

Prevent deer from scavenging your yard in search for tomatoes and other vegetables. Prepare a homemade repellent with 80 percent water and 20 percent whole eggs and pour or spray over the area. This repellent gives a bad odor that prevents deer from going to the tomato plants. Spray plants with fermented salmon fertilizer for an alternative to a homemade repellent. Use the fertilizer up to a week before the tomatoes mature. Spread coyote urine around the vegetable patch or container tomatoes. Coyote is a natural enemy, and deer naturally resist areas that indicate their presence. Install 2-by-4-inch mesh fencing around the area to protect tomato plants from deer. Keep it 5 feet high to prevent deer leaps.

Cultural Control

Include plants that deer are not attracted to in your vegetable patch. Although damage may still occur because deer are selective feeders, the extent will be small. Grow peppers or herbs such as dill, sage, rosemary and oregano between tomatoes or around plants, or choose deer-resistant varieties of tomatoes such as Bonnie Original, Better Boy or Sweet 100.

Sound Devices

Install high-pitched sound machines around tomato plants. Although the sound is undetected by humans, it is very high for animals such as deer that refrain from entering the particular area. Record and replay dog barking sounds to deter deer that are frightened by canines.

Keywords: tomato plants, deer damaging tomatoes, prevent deer damage

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.