Combination Wildlife Cover and Forage Blend
Total acreage coverage, 6 lb per ONE acre broadcast or drilled
Planting instructions and field use
There are many methods to plant the ‘Wildlife cover and forage blend’. We suggest the following choices, early summer using no-till drill, early summer tillage with broadcasting or drilling seed, late fall using minimum tillage or no- till drill and late fall broadcasting seed. Note the amount of seed (6 lb) needed per acre, which is about half of the normally recommended amount. This seed amount is correct, with the seeds included and the designed use of this blend. You are planting a combination cover and forage field for a host of wildlife from ground nesting song birds, game birds to deer. Included are cool and warm season grass seeds, which by themselves make an excellent safe nesting or bedding area, but not much else. You will have little in the way of forage. You have Timothy, which will be at the right height for the doe fawning or game bird hatching period, (first of June). As the summer begins, the warm season grasses come into their own and create tall secure areas for much of wildlife right through the winter season. Deer especially like tall cover, in fact the taller the better. Included is the key and very aggressive Cave in Rock switch grass, which can reach eight feet of height and stand tall all winter long. The extra stiff 5-6 feet tall Shelter switch grass adds to the structure. The Canada Wild rye, (6-7 feet tall) and Timothy, (4-5 feet of height) also helps in the structure, where wildlife will have cover in the intermediate height. The nine-variety perennial creates an ideal breeding and foraging ground for insects of many types. These insects are vital for both young and old birds throughout the late spring and even into the early fall. Without these insects there would be little to no nesting and food for birds, especially newly hatched chicks. Chick survival into adulthood increases beyond normal with this field of security and food. The early emerging clover is ideal food for adult game birds prior to the arrival of insects. The perennials add lower structure for improved security as birds nest and the deer have an ideal structured and secure bedding as well as year round forage. The small amount of the annual, (winter canola) is designed to help the struggling grasses and perennials develop their root systems with its large leaf shade for the first year of growth. You will find many uses for this ‘Wildlife cover and forage blend’. Think of it as a combination year round secure field as mentioned above, where this field could be a small one acre field nestled deep into the woods or a field of many acres in an open area to extend the wildlife use of your land. Kill plots need to be secure to encourage daylight access by deer. Surrounding that kill plot with this type of cover does exactly that. Water sources should be surrounded as well. Deer are known as edge animals. Edge is the transition zone from one forest type to another. Think tall timber next to an old field, where there should be brush and brambles between them. This edge environment is what deer and many other animals prefer as travel corridors. It is best to have the brush and brambles but the Wildlife cover and forage blend will do fine. You definitely need deer sanctuaries where they bed and these should be scattered about with a well thought out plan. In addition to natural deer bedding areas these fields do it nicely. Now connect the dots from deer bedding areas to other bedding areas to kill plots to more kill plots to a large forage destination field. These connecting dots are travel lanes of 15 feet minimum to 30 feet wide preferred of the same ‘Wildlife cover and forage blend. A travel lane of 60 feet wide or more will be used also as a bedding area. How about a security fence on your border?
Soil preparation and Maintenance
Here, we have a field designed for a variety of uses, yet does not need the soil correction or maintenance of an attractant type food plot. The following are the minimum recommendations for soil correctness. You should have a Ph no lower than 6.0, the Phosphorous at 20 Parts per Million minimum, PPM, the potash and magnesium at 100 PPM minimum and the soil type no less than a loamy sand. Check that topsoil and shoot for four inches minimum.
The following field preparations are vital in allowing the designed lower seeding rate to be effective. There must be little to no weed or weed seed competition prior to seeding. The key long living seeds in this blend take up to three years to get established and that is a major part of the plan for success. The idea is to get the grasses and long living and competitive perennials time to get their root system established with minimum competition, (6 weeks minimum). You want a standoff between the aggressive grasses, (Switch grass) and the more aggressive legume perennials, ( Kura clover and Falcata alfalfa with 100 years of life plus Birdsfoot trefoil up to forty years of life). This designed low seeding rate creates a somewhat spotty seedling condition. In time this allows native grass, forbs and brush to also get established. This high diversity of selected and native plants is our ultimate goal. You will need to spray a minimum of three times prior to seeding. For the early summer seeding, a September spraying the previous year is necessary. For the late fall seeding, three sprayings the same year are a must.
Maintenance is simple with an optional yearly broadcasting of 100 lbs of 19-19-19 fertilizer per acre in spring, (early May). As mentioned above we want an even stand off between the switch grass and the more aggressive legume perennials. This balance is influenced by variable soil conditions, where legumes could be favored over switch grass and in reverse. A late June mowing set at 8-10 inches of height will set back the switch grass and favor the legumes. If necessary a light no-till seeding of preferred legumes insures rejuvenation. An optional light broadcasting, (6 lbs per acre) with adequate soil moisture being present can be successful. Improving the existence of switch grass is normally not necessary for it is self spreading. Yet for over aggressive cool season grasses and legumes a light and timely spraying of one pint of Round up and one quart of ammonium sulfate per acre will work. The timing is the key and very important. You will need to spray just as the cool season grasses and legumes appear and prior to the later emerging switch grass. Depending on latitude and local conditions this spraying could be as early as early April to mid May in northern areas. This spraying may need to be repeated again the following year to insure the slow growing switch grass to establish itself. Burning and or disking in early April is a good option for total field rejuvenation.
Early summer no-till drill, or tillage with broadcasting or drilling seed date.
Think mid June as your target seeding date with the whole month of June being acceptable. This date fits in with the late emerging warm season grasses. Example, switch grass needs soil temperature at 68 degrees F. for seed germination. Planting earlier will work but there is a slight risk of grass germination with an unseasonable early warm spell then followed with a cool dry period, with some plants suffering stress.
Late fall seed broadcasting, no-till drill or minimum tillage with standard drilling date
Your seeding date may vary depending on the latitude. Think of planting around the last date when seeds will not germinate due to the low soil temperature. In mid Michigan , November 15th or later is safe to seed the Wildlife cover and forage blend. The date seems like a simple decision but a very important one. The last thing you want to happen is having your broadcast or no-tilled seeds germinate due to a good rain followed by well above average temperatures then zapped with a frost. With this late seeding date, several good things are in place. Example, you have the late spring to early fall to spray the magic three times. This allows you good spray timing for excellent weed and weed seed control, (spraying details to follow), which is critical when planting this blend. Note; for all drilling set the small seed flute opening at 7/16”, (needed due to the Canada wild rye seed) to achieve the 6 lb rate per acre. You will need to block every other seed opening with duct tape unless you have the extra low gear.
Early summer no-till drill planting instructions, (recommended)
The following spraying recommendation for maximum weed kill will be used for the first spray application only for all following seeding methods. You sprayed the previous fall, (mid September) with two quarts of round up, one quart of sprayable granulated ammonium sulfate, and 1-1/2 pints of 2-4-D ester per acre. In addition you will add one pint of LI-700 per one hundred gallons of water, (or two ounces per acre when spraying at 12.5 gallons per acre). This first spraying is designed to kill all vegetation. For all following sprayings and especially including the last prior to seeding use two quarts of Round up and one quart of ammonium sulfate per acre. The 2-4-D ester and LI-700 has residual effects and may kill the Wildlife seedlings. You can do the second spraying around mid to late May, (wait for the weeds to be at least six inches tall). You can spray the third and last spraying just prior to seeding, (same day is fine) with your target seeding date being mid to late June. No-till drill at six lbs per acre of the ’Wildlife cover and forage blend. Broadcast fertilizer soon after. Note; all early summer seedings work best following a good rain.
Early summer tillage and broadcasting or drilling planting instructions, (**very highly recommended**)
As above, spray the previous September formula. Your target planting date is near the end of June through the first week of
July. Even though you sprayed the previous mid September, wait for the unkilled weeds and the tallest grasses to be 6-8 inches tall, (around mid to late May), then spray the Round up and sprayable granulated ammonium sulfate. One week to ten days later broadcast the fertilizer and recommended lime and follow with tillage, (never wet soil) no more than four inches deep. Four weeks later and no less than four weeks spray again the Round up and ammonium sulfate formula the newly emerged weeds, then broadcast, no-till drill or standard drill six lbs of ‘Wildlife cover and forage blend’ per acre. Follow with a slow cultipacking pass. Your seeding date should be from the third week of June through the first week of July. Best to seed soon after a good rain. Note; for first year attraction and tall cover, mix 10 lbs of buckwheat with 10 lbs of forage sorghum BMR per acre and broadcast or run through the back large grain seed hopper set at a minimum flute opening, (around 3/16 inch).
Late fall no-till or broadcasting planting instructions, (highly recommended)
Wait for the grass and weeds to be 8-9 inches tall, (probably mid to late May) and then spray this first application as above. If weeds include plants such as bracken fern, wait for the first leaves to unfurl for best weed kill. Spray again four weeks later. You will definitely spray again for the third time the Round up and ammonium sulfate only formula in mid September. Temperature should be 60 degrees F. or above. The above three sprayings will prepare your site for maximum no-till results. Broadcast the lime the year of spraying. Broadcast the fertilizer the following early June.
Your seeding date of six lbs of this blend per acre whether broadcasting, (follow with a slow cultipacking pass after a nice rain) or no-till drill, (preferred) should be after any chance of seeds germinating. This may be from early to late November, depending on your latitude location.
Late fall minimum till with broadcasting or standard drilling planting instructions (highly recommended)
Very similar to above, ‘Late fall no-till or broadcasting planting instructions’ with the following changes. Two weeks after your second spraying, which should be close to early to mid July, broadcast your recommended lime and fertilizer and till no more than four inches deep. Spray for the third time as above, then seed from early to late November as shown above with broadcasting or drilling seed with a standard type or no-till drill, (preferred) and follow with a slow cultipacking pass.
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