Posted: Apr 10, 2018 1:08 PM PDT
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 1:08 PM PDT
Reported by Frank McCaffrey, ReporterCONNECT
SANTA ROSA – A Rio Grande Valley hay farmer is paying attention to a new warning about gophers. He says he is taking precaution to keep these animals from damaging his machinery.
George Rodriguez is a second-generation farmer in Santa Rosa. He has fought to keep nature from hurting his business his whole career.
Rodriguez says although this year has been a challenge for many in the Valley agricultural community, he was prepared.
"Right now, with this drought, it's been hard for farmers to survive on. And, I said to myself, 'I got all my ends covered with Sudex grass.' To make some hay and sell some hay," he explains.
Rodriguez is paying attention to a new warning from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension about gophers, or ground squirrels, that can burrow through his land. The warning states they are prevalent in the Valley this year.
He says he’s seen them on his land.
Rodriguez says they can cause damage to equipment. He explains the rodents can also hurt hay plants, consume plant roots and vegetation. He says, for now, he’s working to stop them.
"We run the chisels pretty deep and once we run them deep, I don't think they'll survive out there. But they'll do some damage sooner or later," he tells us.
Rodriguez says he’s worried about what wildlife in his fields could do to his very expensive machinery.
"I don't know what we could do, maybe run some traps or something to catch them. But it would be – those little animals are smarter than we think. They're smarter than us!" he jokes.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. An expert with the group tells us Rodriguez should scout his fields right away to find gophers' mounds in the dirt.
"If they see those then they need to be prepared to bait, that's the best method of control in a large pasture or hay meadow as opposed to trapping," explains Vanessa Corriher-Olson with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
She says this would minimize the damage the animals can do to a farmer's equipment or hay plants.
According to Corriher-Olson, gophers can also cause damage to irrigation equipment on a farm for hay or any other type of agricultural production. She says this is just one more reason a farmer should control gopher population on their property.
A gopher mound can often be mistaken for that of a mole.
Corriher-Olson says the two animals tunnel through the dirt but the tunnels are different. She notes a mole tends to tunnel closer to the surface. Meanwhile, a gopher tends to go lower into the ground and push up dirt in the form of a mound.
If scouting for a gopher, she recommends searching for a mound-like formation in the dirt.