Update on Spring Plantings and Last Year’s Habitat Work

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A site visit to the NY property revealed a rare problem, that is, too much rain.  Never thought I would be complaining about too much rain, but we have fields now that are waterlogged and plants suffering from lack of air.  There is a lot of yellowing in some fields and the neighbor’s corn is looking like it may not make it unless it dries some.  Not much chance of that as there is a front of thunderstorms going through as I write this.

The roadside food plot as come up thick and tall with a field of clover along with many other weed species and some grass around the edges.  The field is full of oxeye daisies and is looking very pretty right now.  On my walk-through I found a deer bed at the edge of the spruce in the thick grass.  I also kicked up a fawn and heard a deer snorting in the spruce.

bed at field edge

Deer bed at the edge of the clover field

The thistle is about to go to seed head.  Although I polished off many thistle plants with a backpack, more have popped up.  As soon as things dry out a bit, we should get in there and mow it to keep them from going to seed and to refresh the clover.

The bean field is full of plants.  This year we didn’t put in Roundup Ready beans and are experimenting with Tyrone beans.  I put brassicas and clover in the small seed box and that is all growing like crazy, along with lambsquarter and other weeds.  I won’t worry about weeds as they are also browsed by deer.  However, the deer are going after the beans heavy.  I was worried that I had put them on too heavy, but as you can see from the photos, the deer are after them and eating them up at the edge of the field.  Not to worry, as they are forage beans and are making new leaves, plus we planted enough acreage to keep ahead of them.

planting soybeans

Planting the beanfield at the end of May


June at the beanfield after one month of growth. Notice the strip where I increase the planting rate to experiment with rates.

bean sorghum 7_15

This part of the field was planted in beans plus sorghum. I want to see if the beans will climb the sorghum plants.

browsed soybean in brassicaThe photo to the right shows a chomped soybean near the field edge and below is a t-raptor brassica

that has been browsed

browsed brassica

I checked out the hinge cutting areas we made.  I kicked out a deer that was laying under this bunch of hinged-over hophornbeam.  HO-HO is an excellent hinge cut species as it is very strong and fibrous wood and sprouts readilty.  You can see that the trees are resprouting well and creating an overhead canopy.  The trees, including cherry and maple, that broke off are also sprouting from the high stumps and creating low canopy as well.  I had a complaint about cutting high stumps recently.  I do that partly because I want the deer to be able to walk underneath and also, if the tree sprouts from shoulder height, it won’t get browsed off and will have a chance to grow and create low canopy.

Hinged Hophornbeam trees where deer was bedded

Hinged Hophornbeam trees where deer was bedded

Notice how this hinged maple is sprouting from the high stump, out of reach of deer

Notice how this hinged maple is sprouting from the high stump, out of reach of deer

In conclusion, deer are bedding on the property now, where they were not before.  There is pleny of chow for them.  We are producing several tons per acre of forage biomass right now, overwhelming the deer with quality forage during the antler growth and fawn rearing period of the deer’s life cycle.

We are also building the soil with nutrient-scavenging brassicas and nitrogen-fixing soybeans.

Tune in next month for more photos of the beans and getting ready for winter with more seeds in late summer.


About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.

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