Winter Rye for Throw and Mow?

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by SwampCat, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I used to plant a lot of rye years ago when I worked for the Feds, but havent planted it on my own place. I read about a lot of guys seeding into their WR and then mowing for their TNM plots. I plant wheat, now. But no way is there any standing wheat left from the previous year to seed into. The wheat stalks will all be laying flat on the ground, forming a mat so dense I would not expect any seed to be able to get through to the ground. Does WR stand erect much longer than wheat? My wheat is usually laying flat by the end of July and I wouldnt be planting at least until the first week of October. Coons, deer, hogs, and all manner of songbirds feed on the wheat heads and walk through it. Maybe these animals dont feed as heavily on WR seed heads? What is the best fall crop to plant the year prior to a TNM attempt?
     
  2. jsasker007

    jsasker007 Active Member

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    I would say rye would be best and it's growing through spring feeding deer and acting as a cover crop if needed. Winter rye is hard to beat in my opinion. Add some red clover and all you need to do is mow the rye and release the clover----voila!
     
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  3. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    I don't do throw and mow and I know there are those much better suited to answer your question. However most throw and mow as I understand it isn't meant to span nearly an entire year. As I understand it you plant wheat or rye in the fall to do a throw-and-mow in the spring. Then, depending on what was planted in the spring you can do another throw-and-mow in the fall.

    So - plant wheat or rye in the fall. Come spring broadcast clovers, buckwheat or whatever. Mow the wheat or rye to cover the seed - the summer heat will kill the wheat and rye on it's own if you choose to mow a few times or to not terminate the wheat or rye the initial time. What you planted in the spring then grows all summer then come fall - it's time to broadcast your cereal grains and fall annual plants or maybe even a perennial clover and mow off the existing vegetation and start the process all over again..... Tat is how I sort of understand the throw-and-mow method. Once in the spring, once in the fall.....

    Like I said, other folks here have far more history and practice with it than I do.....that is just how I understand it.

    As for rye or wheat - I prefer wheat. Wheat will survive my winters and gets only about half as tall as rye does for me. Wheat will get knee high by the time I get around to mowing, while rye will be waist high. I have issues with rye and rotary equipment that I don;t have with wheat. You can kill either however with gly. Rye will provide fawning cover as well if that is a desired goal.
     
  4. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Sorghum or millet will stay standing into October if spring planting. Also, rye is way better than wheat for throw n mow, but you'd have to plant it in the summer to have it still standing by October. I planted a test plot in tough growing conditions, using a grain drill, 1/2 of the seed box in wheat, 1/2 in rye. The rye was way ahead of the wheat in germination rate and height. Half the wheat didn't sprout, every kernel of the rye came up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
  5. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Rye or wheat will not make it if planted in late spring here. 100 degree temps and no rain in July and August will kill it.

    I want to do one planting a year - a fall planting of cool season plants - wheat,rye, and white clover - around the first of October. Then I want to come back next October, seed it with wheat, rye, maybe a little clover, mow it, and let it grow all over again. But I am afraid the rye and wheat from the previous fall planting will be laying prostrate on the ground when I am ready to replant.

    I am new to this TNM method. What should I be looking to do?
     
  6. DocHolladay

    DocHolladay Well-Known Member

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    You might have to do conventional tillage the first time to get everything growing and get the thatch you need, then start your TNM the next fall. I had a new hay field that I had disced to get everything started the first year and haven't turned soil since. I will probably have to do a little discing this spring if I plant soybeans since I will be using a friends Firminator, but I plan on setting the gangs at the least amount needed to get the job done. This was my second year to do TNM and my 3rd plot to do. I did WW, WO, AWP both years in the fall and pretty much let it grow native vegetation in the spring. I did TNM with milo, millet, soybeans and wheat this spring and covered it with a heavy thatch of the WW, WO, AWP and it came up great. Except the soybeans struggled because I couldn't spray them. I mowed the weeds just above them a couple of times, but it seemed like a new weed showed up. I let it grow and did a burn down in late Aug/early Sept and did TNM into it and everything is coming up great for my late planting. It didn't rain for 2 weeks after I planted and once it did, everything sprang out of the ground. The only issue I am having at the moment is one end of the plot has a pile of wild onions in it, but they will die soon enough and stop competing with my plot.
     
  7. Jason Broom

    Jason Broom Well-Known Member

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    Do a search for Dr. Craig Harper and his once-a-year food plot program. He basically uses a cereal grain (wheat or rye will work) along with at least 2 annual clovers that reseed heavily, such as Arrowleaf. You manage it more or less the way you described, using a TnM approach.
     
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  8. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I have a plot now that I plant with conventional tillage method of wheat and arrowleaf. I never plant arrowleaf - it comes back every year by reseeding. I currently wait until mid August - after the arrowleaf is dead - and spray gly, then bush hog, burn if not in a burn ban, spread wheat and fertilizer, and lithtly disk. It does great. I have thought about a tnm plot there, but was worried that the thick mat of vegetation the arrowleaf makes would be difficult to penetrate by the seed.
     
  9. Jason Broom

    Jason Broom Well-Known Member

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    The differences between lightly discing, burning, and a true throw-n-mow, are few. All three techniques could be used on the same plot, periodically, with good effect. In other words, you have almost been managing that plot as a TnM, you just add in a bit of discing.

    Only experience would convince you of this, but that "thick mat of vegetation" is actually a critical part of a successful TnM effort. Seeds are small, even most of the "big" ones, and they tend to wiggle their way down through that vegetation a lot easier than you might think.

    Soil is meant to grow things. Nature has few mechanisms by which it can bury a seed, yet things do indeed grow. Mix in crimson, or another clover that reseeds heavily, and stay the course. What you're doing is perfectly fine, but try broadcasting seed and amendments BEFORE mowing, next year...you might be just as happy with the results and won't need to disc at all.
     
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  10. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Yes - I did broadcast before mowing this year. And to be honest - this fall has been brutal for any type of food plot work with no rain for over six weeks. This is the first year in 38 years of planting multiple food plots that I have not had something green by the first of Nov - and that is using conventional tillage. I plant about 60 acres of food plots each year, and I would love to be able to broadcast the seeds and amendments on most plots without ever having to disc. On many of the plots, the disking is the part that takes the longest.
     
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  11. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I plant ten acres of eagle seed forage beans each year - and I broadcast them onto a prepared seed bed and then lightly disk. Some of the seed always ends up in my NWSG next to the disked area, and quite a bit of it comes up in that grass. It seems the beans germinate pretty easily - especially since spring plantings usually receive adequate rainfall. Not sure I would want to try a whole ten acres with $100 per bag eagle seed beans into standing grass. Your plan should remove some of the guess work.
     
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  12. Brian

    Brian Active Member

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    I'm going to show my ignorance, but what exactly does it mean to "lightly disc?" I've read the term for as long as I can remember but never really understood what it means - is it a function of straigthtening out the disc gangs, making fewer passes or somehow controlling how deep the discs cut?

    I prep my plots by discing with the gangs set at steepest angle and then after I've spread my grain seed I make another pass (just one) with the gangs straightened out and with a chain link drag behind the discs. I've tried but just don't have the finesse it would take to control how deep the discs bite into the soil.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  13. Jason Broom

    Jason Broom Well-Known Member

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    This could be its own thread, so I won't derail this TOO much. :)

    Lightly discing means limiting the angle of the discs, and/or the weight added, to only work the top 2-4" of soil. Depending on the equipment at your disposal, it may also mean making just a single pass, or fewer passes than you otherwise might. Another way to answer this question is to say that you want to wind up with "thirt" when you disc...a condition where you see half thatch and half dirt. Resist the urge to continue discing until you see no more vegetation; that is excessive for the goals of a wildlife food-plotter.
     
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  14. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Perfect explanation. I wont lower my disk all the way ground - basically keeping it where the blades just go an inch or two deep, instead of letting all the weight of the disk down to the ground. And, too, I reduce the disk angle so it does not work as aggressively.
     
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  15. DocHolladay

    DocHolladay Well-Known Member

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    I was wanting a planter but don't know anyone with one and a local seed company has one, but it is wore out. I will be using his firminator to plant 2 acres of beans and I won't get to aggressive with the disc. I get a great stand of AWP's by TNM, so a light discing and seeds being dropped into the "rows" will be just fine. I will probably go back and mow the duff down on top of it. We don't have hogs locally, but I do have more turkeys than you can shake a stick at. They do a pretty good job of cleaning a field out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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