Trying to do better

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by jlane35, May 29, 2020.

  1. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I'm with Native on all accounts! Awnless wheat heads and chicory are the bomb!
    Great pics. Pretty much just like my plots.
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    Last edited: May 30, 2020
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  2. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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  3. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I don't see where it says awnless on it. You might search "beardless" also. I usually end up with seed from Graze King if I remember right. I don't really care brand, just whatever the COOP orders for me. Awnless isn't a dealbreaker... I just started using it some time back because I was witnessing deer eat heads in the summer so I tried a beardless variety and saw July use go up. A mid summer protein boost can't be bad.

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  4. DocHolladay

    DocHolladay Well-Known Member

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    I noticed the same as catscratch. The fall seed mix I get has awnless and awned wheat. The awnless heads get eaten once it dries. I’ve let my supplier know to start using awnless in his fall foodplot mixes.


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    Last edited: May 31, 2020
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  5. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    When I mess around with smart mix it gives the option to buy the seed mix right from them. Have you don’t that before or just get a rough idea on what ratio to plant and buy from somewhere else?
     
  6. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I sometimes order small poundages of oddball seed from the internet. 50lb bags get bought from my local COOP. I've never ordered a complete mix from the SmartMix site.

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  7. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    I’ve only ever planted single species plots. How are guys fertilizing for multi species plots? Do you get a soil sample for one of the main species? Or just throw a generic amount down before mowing the thatch down onto seed?
     
  8. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I'm to the point that I don't fertilize anymore (other than a little gypsum from time to time). I just use rotations and plants that work together to get the soil where it needs be. I did try fertilizing with TnM years ago but seemed to have a lot of weed problems (and extra expense). I will advise that if you put down nitrogen try to do it right before a rain.

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  9. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    And how many days before the average first frost are you doing your TnM? Do the WW and WR need 60 days? 30 days? To produce adequate winter forage. What time frame should I be shooting for

    I’m pretty excited about the diversity this may create and the soil health it could build if I do it properly. I’m also excited about cutting down on prep time. I’ve done throw and mow a few times before but never with the WW or WR to ensure I had adequate thatch the following year to continue the process.
     
  10. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I'll be honest and say that I don't even know my average first frost date. I plant my fall plots 100% according to the rare rain event. Deer will eat even the youngest wheat and it will continue to grow in pretty cool.weather. I've seen farmers plant in December and had deer in what looked like dirt with a slight green hue to it.

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  11. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    A lot of sources recommend planting cereal grains for fall plots after Labor day in Pennsylvania, and brassicas in mid July. I find these dates to be too late for me, if I want a nice stand of cereal grains that can make it through the winter I find that I need to plant on Labor day or earlier. So I start thinking of planting in mid August and watch for a good weather and time opportunity, hopefully getting it done before Labor Day. The simplest method of feeding deer year round in PA is to have a permanent clover field and a fall rye field, and maybe soybeans or brassica on the side. Clover will feed deer from April to November and winter rye will feed deer from November to April depending on snow cover, and both of these are easy to grow and maintain. IMO mixes are for plot guys who only have a few half acre plots and and are focusing on fall shooting plots, not on year round deer feed on larger acreages. Mixes are time consuming because they need to be replanted often, and have a lot of limitations in herbicides and tillage. I'm not opposed to mixes, I do plant mixes from time to time in small shooting plots, and I create a lot of mixes by interseeding grain into existing plots to balance carbon.
     
  12. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    So I’ve been reading through LC’s forum and he talked a lot about plowing under cover crops for soil improvements. Should they have to be plowed or disced under? Or is that just for optimum results?
     
  13. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    That's a loaded question; to plow, or not to plow? And you will get a lot of differing opinions on the topic. The old school farmers thought that the molboard plow was the greatest implement ever.The new age biologists say plowing has major longterm negative effects on soil. First, a quick primer on how plowing works. The simplified version is that it releases a lot of nutrients and fast acting fungi to quickly break down the organic matter, which makes crops really grow on the short term, often likened to a fire burning out of control. It tends kill off the slow acting beneficial fungi and leaves the surface of the soil unprotected, leading to leaching of nutrients and lowering of organic matter, unless a significant amount of manure and fertilizer is added back into the equation, starting another out of control fire the next year. The breakdown on organic matter in notill farming practices are sometimes likened to a steady, slow burning fire, needing less fertilizer and soil amendments added each year.
    I am in the middle between the two camps. I think notill is here to stay, and saves money for the farmer on the long run. But I also think that there is still a place for plowing, on fairly level fields, or on smaller scale operations such as food plots, or where a cover crop will be planted soon after plowing, or where hard soil conditions exist that don't respond well to soil loosening tillage plants.
    Disking is considered "limited tillage" and doesn't kill beneficial fungi, and doesn't leave the soil exposed to the degree that plowing does. A lot of notill farmers will use limited surface tillage along with notill, as the need arises, either for land leveling, to exposure a little soil for broadcasting a cover crop etc. If plowing has always worked well for your food plots and you are having difficulty managing the soil without that tool, I see no harm in turning a little dirt every now and then. I'd try to plant a quickly sprouting erosion control crop like brassica as soon as possible after plowing. That heresy being said about plowing, it's hard to beat a notill crop that's planted into an expired standing small grain field, either drilled or broadcast. As the new crop grows there is a mat of straw protecting the soil surface and locking up a lot of nutrients that are slowly releasing as the new crop needs them. Straw is the magic bullet of notill and soil conservation. As markdarvin would say, "a lot of things going right, here".
     
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  14. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    Well that’s good to know because we don’t own a plow we have always just disked. But still interesting information. I hope these similar questions don’t become an annoyance. I just wasn’t sure how the nutrients were transferred back into the soil if it wasn’t plowed down. But that was a good analogy of a slow burn vs a fast burn for immediate nutrients.
     
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  15. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Biologists say that the roots of plants transfer nutrients into the ground and raise the OM levels of the soil much faster than plowing down green vegetation. That's why planting diverse crop rotations with good root systems is key to soil health. And if you need a light disking to transition to the next planting and save herbicide that's not going to hurt your soil management program.
    The one thing with tillage is that it can be very deceiving, it's common to see a jump in crop growth right after tillage, for the reasons that I mentioned in the prior post, but the cost of this jump in growth is the loss of longterm fertility, which leads into a cycle of adding more fertilizer to replicate the growth rate, which makes the soil acidic, requiring lime, which leads to requiring more tillage to loosen the soil again, and the only way to break this endless cycle is notill with a drop in production the first 2 years.
     
  16. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    I did better this year. So just a quick update. I have 2 acres of white clover currently established.

    1 acre of winter rye, winter wheat, chicory, white and red clovers planted.

    1 acre of winter rye, oats and mammoth red clover planted.

    1 acre of brassica with mammoth red clover planted .

    3/4 of an acre of buckwheat, winter rye, winter peas, brassica, oats, and crimson clover planted.

    If I want to plant summer plots year after year what would the best rotation be for one specific plot?

    I have a field I haven’t planted in a while and it’s in an area I don’t want winter attraction. Let’s say, just as an example, I plant sunflowers next year in this so called summer plot. Once that expires what should I plant for a cover crop that doesn’t have a winter draw but protects the soil? Is what I want to do feasible?
     
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  17. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    That's a tall order considering deer will eat just about anything during certain parts of the year. I'm going out on a limb here, but here's what I might try.

    Start with awnless barley, chicory, and an annual clover in spring. Once the barley is done and likely eaten mid to late summer, throw in soybeans, rape, and a tall forage sorghum, mow it all down, and pack it or press it if you can. Deer outta wipe out those green beans easily and ignore the sorghum stalks. If you're done hunting it, zap it with a mower before the snow flies, or leave it stand to try to throw and mow into it again in spring. I'm not sure how well the sorghum stalks may stand into spring.

    If they stick around and eat the sorghum stalks, please email me the variety you planted!
     
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  18. jlane35

    jlane35 Well-Known Member

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    Well what are you guys doing for a cover crop that your planting your summer plot into? Are you using an annual clover or rye and just terminating it early so you can put soybeans, buckwheat, or sorghum down?
     
  19. shawn cox

    shawn cox Active Member

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    I have done a lot of throw n mow and I just tried it a different way about 3 weeks ago. I normally spray and wait two weeks and broadcast and then mow. This year I planted early because I wanted my radishes, turnips, rape and brassicas to get better growth. I didn't have time to spray this time so I broadcast my seed and mowed it green. I just went out two days ago and sprayed clethodim on the grasses that were there after the annual clover petered out for the summer. I got great germination and growth. Doing throw n mow I always add extra seed because you will get some that doesn't germinated because of the planting method but doing it green must have made a big difference with the moisture in the green plant material. it looks like I might have got too much seed on the ground and have overcrowding. Right now they look awesome and am very happy with them. They will have some clover in them too.
     
  20. shawn cox

    shawn cox Active Member

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    You should try planting alyce clover and aeschynomene as your cover crops maybe. don't know if they will grow good in the north or not. it is a great crop to throw n mow, small seeds like clover has. it will grow thick and I have never had it over browsed and I have more deer than most places I know of. It handles browsing very good. when you ready for your fall plots you could broadcast whatever you plan to plant and then just mow it close to the ground and I don't think you would even have to spray a herbicide. That is what I am doing next season.
     

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