Problem-Solving during growing season forum: Gophers

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SteveM
Apr 30, 2021 9:59 AM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
Now that most of my dahlias are planted for this season, much of my time is spent chasing gophers, trying to limit their damage to their dahlia buffet. Throughout the years I have tried just about every gopher repellent/trap that I know of: "Gopher Purge", clacking windmills,sonic thingies, gopher gassers, flooding the holes with water, gopher black holes, and Macabee traps . So far, I have had success with only the Macabee trap (and their imitators) and this is a limited success. This year I have about 4 gophers that seem too well educated to fall for the Macabee, especially the ones that escape the trap once. I have tried setting the trap baited/unbated, buried/not buried, but I have not been able to trap a gopher for about 10 days.

Anyone have any secret method(s) of eliminating gophers (other than poisons, which are not an option for me)? I am starting to sound like Carl in Caddyshack, and am worried the neighbors are doubting my sanity:
https:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NlQiQfC4zQ
Imageteddahlia
Apr 30, 2021 10:04 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Me too. Who has a good way to eliminate these predators of dahlias?
Too many flowers, not enough time!
SteveM
Apr 30, 2021 3:54 PM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
My Grandfather (a "real" farmer, not like myself) used to run the exhaust from his tractor tailpipe into the gopher holes to gas them and he said it worked well. Now, I see there are several variations of this concept for sale online, most at ridicules prices.The simple (least expensive) ones use a small engine motor with a heat resistant hose that runs into the gopher tunnels. The most expensive variations (several thousand dollars) use larger motors and compress the exhaust to inject into the gopher tunnels. If I have the time and can find an old small engine around here that still runs, I will consider building a "simple" version. Although, I don't envision me having the time. Maybe, if I had a tractor, I would rig up a hose from the exhaust to stick in the gopher tunnel. What could possibly go wrong?
ImageCalif_Sue
Apr 30, 2021 7:17 PM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
I used the Cinch traps, but the smaller (mole) size rather than the large, I catch several every year plus moles too.
https://www.amazon.com/CINCH-Traps-3-1-Large-Gopher/dp/B00G5...
SteveM
May 1, 2021 10:23 AM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
Thanks, Sue, that is one I have never tried. I think what turned me away from it before was when I tried to read the online instructions for setting the trap (they lost me on Step #2). I was concerned the instructions might be akin to IKEA assembly instructions and I would have to go back to school for a few years to figure out how to use it. Is this easier to set than the directions make it appear?
ImageCalif_Sue
May 1, 2021 2:10 PM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Yes, very easy! I set all of them myself, did one at my Mom's yesterday.
I also am looking at one called the GopherHawk after watching a YouTube video on it.
SteveM
May 1, 2021 5:00 PM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
I was about to order 2 of the Cinch traps but then I watched the GopherHawk video and decided to order one of those instead. It looks interesting and, if it does the job, will take a lot less shovel work than the others (Macabee or Cinch). Thanks Sue. Smiling
ImageCalif_Sue
May 1, 2021 11:00 PM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Hope it works Steve, I already have one in my list on Amazon. Big Grin
SteveM
May 17, 2021 10:24 PM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
Sue, just a little feedback in case you still have GopherHawk on your wish list.:.

The trap needs to have soft (not hard and not loose) soil to work. Many of my gophers are in the paths between rows where the soil is dry and hard. The little "augar-like" pointed tool they include to dig the hole is not strong enough to work in hard soil. Now that I think about it, I should have realized that from watching the video. The GoperHawk works fine in soft soil and my percentage of catches looks like it will be about the same as with my Macabee traps. It is a good compliment to my Macabee traps and I'm glad I purchased it. It seems to be well built so I think it will last quite a while.

Kind of ironic, the two weeks before I ordered the GopherHawk, I hadn't caught a single gopher with my Macabee traps. Each ofhe 4 days after I ordered it I caught a gopher with my Macabee traps. Now I only have 2 or 3 gophers doing the tuber buffet so between the two types of traps I should be able to get them under control.
ImageCalif_Sue
May 17, 2021 10:58 PM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Thanks for the feedback!
I got two gophers this week but in an unconventional way, I found fresh mounds and started flooding them with the hose and both times, they popped out. I had to yell for my husband to come out and grab a shovel while I chased them with the garden hose.
I also found fresh mole tunnels, set my cinch trap and caught it within a few hours. So pretty good hunting this week I'd say!
ImageCalif_Sue
May 22, 2021 10:27 PM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Caught two more gophers with my cinch trap, so that's a total of 4 gophers and 1 more in a week. Thumbs up
SteveM
May 24, 2021 1:57 PM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
That's great Sue! Are you using the small cinch traps for the gophers?

I seem to be in a trapper's slump, although I did catch one gopher yesterday with my Macabee trap. I am less impressed with the GopherHawk the more I use it. It is difficult to set the trap without pressing down on the top, and when you push down on the top it is easy to bend the trap bands which makes the trap useless. It is tricky to hold the top still while pulling up on the bottom. I have distorted the bands so now I am going to try and disassemble the trap to get it workable again. I have two weeks to return it to Amazon.
ImageCalif_Sue
May 24, 2021 5:43 PM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Yes, the small one, I think they call them mole size, it's the only one I buy.
I guess that Gopher Haw video is pretty misleading, at least it should have clarified a bit that it may be more difficult with heavy soils.
ImageCalif_Sue
May 25, 2021 9:01 AM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
Another Cinch trap gopher this morning! Thumbs up
Gophers 5
Mole 1
SteveM
May 25, 2021 9:19 AM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
Sue, at this pace you will have enough gopher pelts to make a winter Gofur-coat for this winter.

We are tied on the gopher tally, but I have no moles:

Me:
4 Gophers w/Macabee trap
1 Gopher with GopherHawk trap

Gophers:
3 Heirloom tomato plants
5 Dahlia plants

I better go check my traps...
SteveM
Jul 23, 2021 9:42 AM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
My neighbor recently disked the field that borders my dahlias. The field was mostly wild radishes which the gophers loved. Now that the radishes are gone the gophers have moved to my 'dahlia buffet'. A few have gotten very wary of anything foreign (like a trap) in their burrow so they are almost impossible to catch. I spend over an hour every day chasing gophers and not making a lot of progress.

On the plus side, I have learned how to keep gophers from eating heirloom tomato plants. I plant dahlias between the tomato varieties and the gophers prefer to eat the dahlias so leave the tomato plants alone.
Imageteddahlia
Jul 23, 2021 1:26 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Does castor bean oil work on dahlias to deter them?
Too many flowers, not enough time!
Imageblown_dry
Jul 23, 2021 1:44 PM CST
Name: Amanda
CA Redwood Coast - Zone 9b
DahliaAddict.com
SteveM wrote:On the plus side, I have learned how to keep gophers from eating heirloom tomato plants. I plant dahlias between the tomato varieties and the gophers prefer to eat the dahlias so leave the tomato plants alone.


Ouch! LOL

SteveM
Jul 23, 2021 3:12 PM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
teddahlia wrote:Does castor bean oil work on dahlias to deter them?


I have never tried castor oil but have researched it some. The application instructions are rather involved and geared towards 'herding' the gophers out of the garden. It might be worth trying in some cases where there was something else for them to eat outside of the garden. In my case, my field is surrounded by dry, fallow fields and nothing for gophers to munch on. Kind of like if someone offered me the choice of a taco with cilantro and a taco without cilantro. I would take the one without cilantro unless the one with cilantro was the only one available. I don't think anything is going to deter a starving gopher if dahlias are their only food source.

ImageCalif_Sue
Jul 24, 2021 1:21 AM CST

Cubits.org Site Admin

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA.
Zone 9a
My current Cinch trap tally since May:
Gophers: 10
Moles: 3
Thumbs up

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