Plot Screen Woes

Longleaf

Member
I don't think I have posted over here yet since moving from the QDMA forum but I am looking forward to joining in more frequently. To start off, I am looking for some thoughts on a plot screen that is giving me fits.

Last year I planted Egyptian Wheat at 10#/acre in a strip 25' wide. It was planted late (July 1) and was killed in early August following an improperly timed topdress of nitrogen. EW was too tall to top dress and the rain that was "imminent" didn't materialize. A week later the EW was toast.

So this year I tried again but EW was hard to find and I had SeedRanch substitute a tall variety of sorghum for EW. I incorporated all my fertilizer prior to planting. Got it planted mid-May at a rate of 4#/acre in the same 25' wide strip. Through the end of August, it looked pretty good. The seed heads filled out pretty good and overall I was pleased. However upon checking on it this past weekend, ALL of it was lodged over. I assume the lodging was not wind related since the stalks are laying in all directions. It could be rain related because we did receive a 3.5" deluge with the TS that came through Labor Day Weekend, but I have not seen a rain flatten standing stalks to this extent.

So I am back to a field without much of a screen yet again. Looking forward to next year I'm not sure what to do. I don't own this particular tract so planting trees is not an option. I have thought about native warm season grasses but I question whether they will be tall enough to really provide much of a screen.

Any other ideas?
 
I have a couple MG screens that are doing ok, In a 2-3 years they should do a good job of screening , I planted mine in 2 - 3' X 3' rows and it might have been a little far apart so now 2- 2'X2' rows. They will eventually fill in.

You can kind of see my truck bed in the middle of the pic.



Here's where I bought my rhizomes from
http://www.mapleriverfarms.com/
 
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EW does great for some but for me, no like. Lot of work and expense with fert. I did it two years ago around 2 plots. Grew great, 12 feet tall, not too thick, healthy looking. Then the wind storms, an ice storm, and then snow typical of this area and it was all on the ground by late Oct. Served no purpose. I went back to what had always done before, managing my weeds that will grow 8 feet, no cost, not as much sweat, and they last thru end of Dec and hunting season. Some people plant sorghums with there EW which may help, but I'll just let the leftover EW seed sit in my garage.
 
I tried sun hemp for the first time this spring. It is for a plot and road screen. As of now it is an incredible screen, 8-12' tall and can't be seen through. My research says it looses it's leaves so I planted some type of sudan grass with it. My thought is that the sudan grass will keep it's leaves and the stiff stem of the hemp will keep them upright. The deer browsed the heck out of the hemp as soon as it reached a foot tall, I think it took them a while to figure it out as far as edibility, They continue to browse today. If the hemp and sudan work as I am hoping it will make a great screen to last till Thanksgiving, longer would be a bonus.

The sudan is as tall as the hemp. I planted soybeans into this soil at the same time I put the hemp and sudan in and suprisingly the soybeans grew and even put a few beans on.
 
I will second miscanthis giganteus. It'll take two years to provide real benefit, but that only means you go one more fall without substantial screening. MG has filled a niche on my property where the power company clears everything 30' either side of the line. Trees, blackberry, shrubs, and broadleaf weeds are toast. The MG was simply "released". ;)
 
I just use corn - I know how to plant and dress it with N - so I don't have to learn something new. 8 rows is probably the min I'd do for a real screen - but I sometimes just plant 4 rows if I need cover on a walkway to a stand or vehicle.
 
The more I look at miscanthus the more I am suspect of how well it do here in the southeast.

I continue to come back to a native warm season grass but I am wondering if it would be better to go with something like Alamo Switchgrass or a mix of grasses to include Indiangrass and Big Bluestem. I'm not sure if that mix would be thick enough to provide a screen though.
 
These are willows native to the ranch, they were planted into plastic about 3-4 yr ago as 9" long limb cuttings of 0.75 to 1.5" diameter.....during a rainy day in march....they cost nothing other than the time spent cutting.....no watering and no special care. NONE of the hybrid poplar we purchased and planted in zone 7b have survived! Your best screening plant likely resides on your farm...and it is free for the taking!
 
How tall of a screen are you after?

My switchgrass is great for hiding deer - it however makes a screen at only about 4 foot tall tops. I'm 6 feet tall and It won't hide my activities from the deer. I can easily see over it at a planted width of 120 feet and see a deer standing on the other side in say an open plot.

If your looking for something that needs to be 6 feet or taller your looking at corn, sunflowers, a tall version of sorghum or the like. The bad thing is most of these plants are of interest to deer from a food perspective. 8 rows of corn can make a great screen but will fade over time as the deer work it over due to the food source. It's also pretty expensive and requires weed control and lots of N fertilizer. I can't think of anything in an annual that will grow that tall with the standing power and density you need for a tall screen well into late fall and winter. Most NWSG will get 6 feet tall but that's the seed head and not the blades of grass themselves and that is what you need to get the actual screen - at least not that I have seen. Maybe if you pour on the N fertilizer they will get that tall, but I don;t have the experience to confirm or deny that.
 
J-bird you hit on my primary concerns with the NWSG idea. I really want something tall enough to hide movement to and from several stands (6-7' tall). I look at pictures of switchgrass plantings that are 6-10' tall but I can't say that I have seen a planting that tall in person.

Dgallow I can't bring myself to transplant willows. I'm fighting them for all I'm worth .25 mile away in a duck pond. Plus, I'm not wanting to use trees here since I don't own this particular tract.
 
J-bird you hit on my primary concerns with the NWSG idea. I really want something tall enough to hide movement to and from several stands (6-7' tall). I look at pictures of switchgrass plantings that are 6-10' tall but I can't say that I have seen a planting that tall in person.

Dgallow I can't bring myself to transplant willows. I'm fighting them for all I'm worth .25 mile away in a duck pond. Plus, I'm not wanting to use trees here since I don't own this particular tract.
My suggestion then would be an annual planting of corn/sorghum or sunflowers - depending on what your deer will allow and then also plant some MG - and see how it does for you. getting an annual to that height to be sturdy enough to last well into your season your going need something with a "stalk" so to speak. Just not a lot of options. MG may or may not be a long term solution for you but you may not know until you try......you don't have to go all out, just a few to try and see what happens.
 
I don't think I have posted over here yet since moving from the QDMA forum but I am looking forward to joining in more frequently. To start off, I am looking for some thoughts on a plot screen that is giving me fits.

Last year I planted Egyptian Wheat at 10#/acre in a strip 25' wide. It was planted late (July 1) and was killed in early August following an improperly timed topdress of nitrogen. EW was too tall to top dress and the rain that was "imminent" didn't materialize. A week later the EW was toast.

So this year I tried again but EW was hard to find and I had SeedRanch substitute a tall variety of sorghum for EW. I incorporated all my fertilizer prior to planting. Got it planted mid-May at a rate of 4#/acre in the same 25' wide strip. Through the end of August, it looked pretty good. The seed heads filled out pretty good and overall I was pleased. However upon checking on it this past weekend, ALL of it was lodged over. I assume the lodging was not wind related since the stalks are laying in all directions. It could be rain related because we did receive a 3.5" deluge with the TS that came through Labor Day Weekend, but I have not seen a rain flatten standing stalks to this extent.

So I am back to a field without much of a screen yet again. Looking forward to next year I'm not sure what to do. I don't own this particular tract so planting trees is not an option. I have thought about native warm season grasses but I question whether they will be tall enough to really provide much of a screen.

Any other ideas?

I also ordered EW, but from Hancock Seed and received a hybrid sorghum instead. I planted in April and have not had the issue you are having, but mine only grew to 4-5 feet, whereas the EQ normally gets 7+
 
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