Killing/Thinning Warm Season Native Grass

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by SwampCat, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    When I bought my place, there was about 25 acres of long time used fescue cow pasture. But, besides the fescue - especially in the areas of severe use, there was a variety of native forbs - milkweeds, various “sunflowers”, native prairie flowers, etc. I went after the fescue - spraying it in the winter. I have got rid of a lot of it, and now have a pretty good stand of native grass - mostly little bluestem. Problem is, it has choked out almost all the forbs. I dont feel the native grass adds much benefit to my land. Deer dont use it at all - other than walking through it, and there are no quail, turkeys, and very few rabbits. I would like to reduce the density - or even kill the NWSG to allow forbs and blooming plants to come back in. I used to have a lot of milkweed and monarchs - but that is pretty much gone. I used to have a variety of songbirds, but they are gone.

    So, what would be the best way to reduce the NWSG density. I bush hogged and pulled the disk over it one time last year - but that made no difference. My intention is to spray cleth this year on about five acres. Should I bush hog everything low and wait for it to put on some new growth - or just spray when it is six or eight inches tall?
     
  2. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Google "strip-disking quail". Sounds like you had the right train of thought, just didn't go far enough.

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  3. THE LLC

    THE LLC Well-Known Member

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    Burn it.
     
  4. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Burn at the right time of year. Late spring burns remove forbs and woody shrubs and promote dense stands of grass. Fall burns don't take out grasses but set them back enough for forbs to prosper. You'll want a burn rotation do to lack of winter cover with a fall burn. Maybe thirds? Right third this yr, middle third next, left on yr 3... repeat.

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  5. THE LLC

    THE LLC Well-Known Member

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    Burn in Jan.
     
  6. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I dont burn. I do everything by myself - and cant afford enough liability insurance to chance burning. I worked for the Feds for 34 years and burning was part of the job. I have taken a lot of controlled burning training. I know better than to try and burn something on my own.
     
  7. THE LLC

    THE LLC Well-Known Member

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    You’re screwed then. Will your state forestry commission not do it for you?
     
  8. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    they would if I was burning 40 acres or more - not five acres
     
  9. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Stick with disking and selective sprays then. As with burning the time of year that you disk is important. An early spring disking may promote milkweed while a summer disking may promote ragweed. I don't know your seed bank. If it were me I would do the strip-disking and experiment with timing. Diversity is a good thing and you are bound to get quite a bit of it when you disrupt the grass and let other stuff come to light. Good luck with whatever you do.

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  10. THE LLC

    THE LLC Well-Known Member

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    Dang. The GFC likes practice—regardless of the acreage.
     
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  11. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    Burning probably won't make a long term difference or at least it doesn't in mine as the big and little blue comes back weed free.Discing is what is recommended to keep grass thin enough it won't harm chicks.I would kill out strips and plant forbs and wild flowers maybe 10-15 ft wide.I planted 1/2 dozen different forbs in my NWSG and they last a couple years now I don't have any
     
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  12. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    You also have the option of heavier discing to where you think all the NWSG is close to gone then planting forbs but I be it over takes it in a couple years
     
  13. DrDirtNap

    DrDirtNap Active Member

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    This is an interesting conversation and the exact same question I’ve had. I’ve got over 50 acres NWSG and I don’t see a lot of Wildlife benefit from it myself. I sought the advice from Craig Harper, UT Professor, Wildlife Specialist and NWSG Specialist. He advised disking on a regular basis. Burning will favor the grasses. Spraying was a second alternative but not as effective as disking. What shocked me the most was that for Wildlife purposes, Dr. Harper never wants to see more 30% NWSG in each field. The rest of the population should consist of native forbs and shrubs. According to his analysis, my fields are way out proportion. I plan to burn at least one of my fields this fall and then immediately do some aggressive disking.


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  14. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I like how your guy thinks!

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  15. Jon

    Jon Active Member

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    Harper is a smart dude, his opinion on 30% is probably fair. But most cases NSWG should generally not be used in blocks larger than 2-3 acres as deer habitat (you can have multiple blocks of course), similar to pocket cuts you see in woodlots. His focus on the percentage is probably pretty site specific, but you should also consider what else is growing in that region and what would naturally exist... native seeds banks tend to disrupt our abilities to maintain preferred specifies. Generally you would want to kill (herbicide) and disc these areas. Killing in summer and disc in fall to restart the area... also consider plantings... you cant burn (I cant either)… so that's your best option.

    Just as an example in the north, if I am laying out a field that's 10 acres, 2-3 acres of that will likely include NSWG (depends on the soil type and what would be native in that area)... but if it was ideal for NSWG these would be setup in 1-2 acre chunks and that could total more territory if it made sense to plant that plant species, the remainder will probably be in coniferous and/or deciduous trees and deciduous shrubs with 2-3 acres in "fallow" (native) ground that would be worked annually, biannual or biennial by discing (and mowing/spray combo in certain parts) to remain as a natural food source... Harper doesn't like mowing or irregular shapes for maintenance purposes (which is certainly justified)... I do, these shapes although harder to maintain can better defined movement, permitting a compliment to variation that can add security (due to visual limits) and add variety in a way that would be generally more natural to deer. Irregularity can lengthen or reduce "edge," and if done so strategically, permits segregation and isolation to increase socializing areas and frankly sets up better to hide small prey species. I guess my point is diversity and variation if done so in smaller chunks can go a long way... if you can take 10 acres and include 100 species vs 20 species their is a higher probably that you will have more animal and insect interested in frequenting these areas. If you are trying to hide or create security cover for deer I think the example I gave could be helpful and likely more beneficial than a massive chunk of grasses as a monoculture. But that's just my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
  16. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I bush hogged, let it grow a month, sprayed gly, then disked about an acre of my nwsg and had a variety of forbs and annuals take over that acre. That is where all the birds and deer stayed in the entire field. I just dont see much wildlife use in nwsg
     
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  17. KSQ2

    KSQ2 Member

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    The only warm season grass we have flourishing on our place is Johnson grass. :mad:
     
  18. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I have a patch or two of johnson grass - and it receives far more wildlife use than my nwsg.
     
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  19. E_308

    E_308 Well-Known Member

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    Skip the "light" discing and push your hydrolic lever on down. Your ragweed will love you for it. I'd disc a strip, skip two, disc another. I have done this with both a disc and a tiller it will promote the forbs. You'll want to keep an eye out for invasives, sercia also loves no competition if the seeds are laying a couple inches under and you stir them up.
     
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