Planning ahead...and a question about an existing plot

Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
^^^ The thicker stems I was referring to are the rye stems. They "lignify" - get woody and tougher as the plants get bigger and make seed heads. Brassica stems aren't the same. We like our brassicas to get BIG also - more tonnage of forage for the deer. Woody, "lignified" plant material uses up nitrogen in the soil as it decays - robbing following crops of nitrogen supplied by clovers, alfalfa, and other legumes. (That info is from info I've read by crop & soil specialists. It's NOT my expertise!!! I read a lot of material.)

A good publication booklet (only 19 pages) from Penn State Extension is "Making the Most of Mixtures: Considerations for Winter Cover Crops in Temperate Climates". It goes over brassicas, clovers, rye & wheat, oats, canola, Austrian winter peas, and other crop varieties. It's geared more for farmers, but the info in it is good for food plotters too. Charts, pictures, and graphs compliment the written info. Which crops are good - and poor - weed suppressors, what various crops provide - or take from - the soil, etc. are covered topics. I got mine FREE from our county PSU extension office. Helpful info in it. It might prove handy for planting fall / winter food crops.
I was talking about the brassica stems..thanks for clarifying! I had some rather thick stemmed/"woody" and very broadleaf brassicas (I think they were winfreds) that I was worried the deer wouldn't touch as I had heard they don't like the thicker, woodier stems...there was no need to worry as these were converted into deer pellet form before February rolled around...I do have a large number of smaller remaining stems that were eaten off earlier in the winter but too late to regrow that I am not too concerned about just yet...
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
Thanks Bows! I don't really want those grains to be woody, but I do want taller brassicas (I found this year that the main thing the deer were concerned with once the snow hit was height of the plant, they didn't seem to care at all if it was a little thick in the stem). I was also thinking with the earlier brassica seeding I could get 2 rounds of urea spread to really get some height on them. I also felt like the brassicas kind of "protected" the clover and grains growing underneath, kind of a reverse cover crop kinda thing. Plus the "new" brassica plot will back up to an uncut hay field and my soon-to-be-planted tree screen which I hope will make the brassicas more attractive as they are directly adjacent to a bedding area.
Definitely planting my bassicas earlier this year. Mine only amounted to about a 10 inch single leaf stem. I wrote it down exactly when I planted but it was August at some time. This year I think I'll shoot for mid July.
 

Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
Definitely planting my bassicas earlier this year. Mine only amounted to about a 10 inch single leaf stem. I wrote it down exactly when I planted but it was August at some time. This year I think I'll shoot for mid July.
I was gonna try to shoot for the 4th of July weekend (I'll have at least a little time off)...but that means I need to start prepping and spraying in June....
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
I was gonna try to shoot for the 4th of July weekend (I'll have at least a little time off)...but that means I need to start prepping and spraying in June....
Not sure if I'm even going to spray this year. Depends what it looks like. Just bought some sweet corn and sunflowers that I'm going to put in the summer plots just to see what happens. If the deer eat them all, what the hell, I'm out 5 bucks. My dad has one of those old push wheel planters. That's one bonus of having small plots at least.
 

Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
Not sure if I'm even going to spray this year. Depends what it looks like. Just bought some sweet corn and sunflowers that I'm going to put in the summer plots just to see what happens. If the deer eat them all, what the hell, I'm out 5 bucks. My dad has one of those old push wheel planters. That's one bonus of having small plots at least.
I have to spray as the hay by then will maybe be 5’ tall going to mow with a pull behind DR mower. Last year I had to mow and spray twice to get most of it killed. Glad I have some left over gly.
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
I have to spray as the hay by then will maybe be 5’ tall going to mow with a pull behind DR mower. Last year I had to mow and spray twice to get most of it killed. Glad I have some left over gly.
Ya, I can see that. Not sure there is a way around spraying an existing hay field. The plot I had in the existing camp yard I had to spray to kill off all the grass.
 

bigboreblr

5 year old buck +
Ya, I can see that. Not sure there is a way around spraying an existing hay field. The plot I had in the existing camp yard I had to spray to kill off all the grass.
Camp grass can have alot of thatch left in it. Did you get a good till? Without a deep tilling or turning of the soil, it takes a few years to steer the ground. Converted a old apple orchard turned lawn turned into a clover field. Took me about 3 shallow tills with a drag harrow to get it into something decent.

When clover gets too large, the deer dont like it was much. They definitely appreciate frequent mowing. Red clover seems to get that way when going too tall.
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
Camp grass can have alot of thatch left in it. Did you get a good till? Without a deep tilling or turning of the soil, it takes a few years to steer the ground. Converted a old apple orchard turned lawn turned into a clover field. Took me about 3 shallow tills with a drag harrow to get it into something decent.

When clover gets too large, the deer dont like it was much. They definitely appreciate frequent mowing. Red clover seems to get that way when going too tall.

I made the mistake of deep tilling once when it was way too wet. Now it's no till or just the top inch or so. My rototiller is currently out of commission so it'll probably be no till this year. It broke down about halfway through the plot so I experimented with it. The no till side sprouted just as well if not better than the side I tilled. I should note that this plot is also right beside a spring so it stays pretty wet into summer.
 

bigboreblr

5 year old buck +
Last year I redid my clover plot. I sprayed it dead maybe 8-12 inches tall stuff, then ran a york rake through it to get rid of some of the thatch and grass. Spread clover and daikon raddish.

I was worried about the raddish choking out the clover. There are small coffee can to frisbee sized bare spots here n there, but it's 80% covered in clover now. I got 1 inch holes in my ground going down 6-10 inches easily....... Great option on an established plot. Breaking a new ones, you might want grains blinding out the low weeds for the 1st year.

I share a decent sized yard with my inlaws who live next door. they get crabby about tall grass, so I have to mow everything once a month. I think I get more weed problems with plaintains, crabgrass, and some sort of lettuce weed because i mow.

Those raddishes should be planted in that existing plot. Deer enjoy them too. I hear too many years in a row of brassicas can cause insect and disease problems. so, I do not use every year. My raddishesd were basic AG penetrator raddish

Tried canola last year at camp. Nothing touched them. They got big quick in poor soil too. I can see the cover crop potential there.....

My local farmer co-op buys preferred seed from buffalo NY.
 
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Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
Last year I redid my clover plot. I sprayed it dead maybe 8-12 inches tall stuff, then ran a york rake through it to get rid of some of the thatch and grass. Spread clover and daikon raddish.

I was worried about the raddish choking out the clover. There are small coffee can to frisbee sized bare spots here n there, but it's 80% covered in clover now. I got 1 inch holes in my ground going down 6-10 inches easily....... Great option on an established plot. Breaking a new ones, you might want grains blinding out the low weeds for the 1st year.

I share a decent sized yard with my inlaws who live next door. they get crabby about tall grass, so I have to mow everything once a month. I think I get more weed problems with plaintains, crabgrass, and some sort of lettuce weed because i mow.

Those raddishes should be planted in that existing plot. Deer enjoy them too. I hear too many years in a row of brassicas can cause insect and disease problems. so, I do not use every year. My raddishesd were basic AG penetrator raddish

Tried canola last year at camp. Nothing touched them. They got big quick in poor soil too. I can see the cover crop potential there.....

My local farmer co-op buys preferred seed from buffalo NY.
I definitely wanted to get some kind of brassica into the existing clover, but worry about it not being able to hit the soil or to grow fast/high enough to over take the clover in the fall. Would those groundhog radishes do the trick? They don't have to cover the field just want them for some additional tonnage.
 

Wild Thing

5 year old buck +
so right now, I have a half acre plot above my house that has WR/WW/2 kinds of red clover (MRC and mammoth)/some aberlasting and alsike growing in it that was planted late last summer and I frost seeded some white clovers and a mix of a few other kinds of perennial clovers and alfalfa into it earlier this month...the frost-seeded seedlings are starting to come up and the WR/WW combo is starting to grow and become more noticeable....how long should I wait to mow the WR/WW?...last year I waited too long on a similar field and the WR/WW got way too tall (it was over 5' when we finally mowed it in June)....the field as it appears now..also..would a quick growing brassica grow in this established clover field without knocking it back?
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Also for some more questions...adjoining this plot is another half acre of existing hayfield that I want to convert to a food plot, but slightly different than the one I already have.
My plan is to put aberlasting (2.5 lbs), ladino (6 lbs), mammoth red (6lbs) and a mix of clover and brassicas (4.25 lbs) along with a standalone amount of winfred brassicas (3 lbs) and some WR/WW (probably at least 50 lbs of each) again. I used kind of a similar amount of brassicas and clover last year (I know its a lot of extra seed, but I wasn't too sure how it would do). My question is about timing for this..I planted early August last year and we got good rain in August and September and it turned out well. I would like to try to plant earlier (maybe early to mid July) to get the brassicas taller, but I assume I should wait till later to plant the WR/WW and also maybe the clover till later (late August/early September)?
Sorry for the multitude of questions and thanks for the help!

Wow! That is a lot of seed for a 1/2 acre plot DR! Aside from the cereal grains (50# each per half acre is fine), I would not use that much clover and brassica seed on a full acre...of course I am drilling my seed - perhaps you are broadcasting?

Regarding timing, as others have mentioned, it all depends upon your latitude and the average first frost dates in your area. I am in Upper Michigan - Lat 46N - Zone 4b. With my average first frost date being in early to mid-September, I need to plant brassicas by early to mid-July in order to get a good 60 days growth on them. I now include a little clover in my brassica plantings but they don't really show up much until the following spring. I also broadcast some rye over the brassica plantings in mid-late August.

For establishing perennial clover plots I always start them in late August or September with a cover crop of cereal grains. Those clovers don't amount to much until the following spring either but the cereal grains provide a good nurse crop for the clovers and feed my deer during the fall and early spring. Once the rye or wheat (oats will winter kill here) gets taller than about 8-9 inches it won't be browsed much by deer but I am never in a hurry to terminate it as it doesn't hurt the clovers at all and I like a lot of thatch, whether that be for fawning cover, turkey bugging, a cover crop, a free crop of winter rye after mowing, or whatever. Thatch is your friend for soil health for sure.

I had not really thought much about decomposing rye using a lot of Nitrogen as it breaks don't but I suppose that is true. Nonetheless, I almost always have some legumes under the rye whether that is a nurse crop for clovers or a full cover crop so they are also producing N while the rye may be utilizing it. The terminated rye is also producing other nutrients like P and K into my soil as it decomposes so it is still a healthy nutrient cycling process IMO.

Like many of you, I used to mow my clovers a couple of times every year thinking the new growth would be preferred over taller clovers but I think that myth has been pretty much debunked by studies done by the University of Tennessee and others - so I don't mow clovers anymore. Here are some photos of clover use by our deer:

The strip on the right is just a strip of perennial clovers which I have around the outside edges of all of my food plots. The crop to the left is a brassica planting which I drilled on July 8th. This photo was taken one month later on August 5th. I included only 4# of clovers in with the brassicas seed (2# each of Med Red and Crimson per acre). You can't see any clovers here and they did not impact the growth of the brassicas at all.

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The same plot on August 21 when I broadcasted cereal rye over top of the brassicas... I "spot" pails of rye seed around the plot to minimize my walking when I broadcast the seed.

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The other end of the plot on the same date...

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The same plot the following May 14th. All of the brassicas have been consumed by my deer and now the clovers and rye are coming up and still feeding my deer.
(On a side note - the dandelions and other broadleaf weeds that you see in the clover strip will be sprayed with a light dose of Gly in another week or so and will be gone for the rest of the year)

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The other end of the plot on June 16th. The rye is way beyond being palatable to my deer but the clovers are doing well.

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The other end of the plot on the same date. If you don't think the deer will browse clovers this tall...

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think again!

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There is no need to mow the clover or the rye IMO, until I am ready to plant the follow up crop.

I planted this small plot of perennial clovers the previous fall with a nurse crop of cereal rye. I had back surgery the following June and didn't get around to mowing the rye until August 5th. You would think that this much thatch would smother the new clovers...

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Nope - by September 18th you wouldn't know there was any rye thatch there unless you looked under the clover....but it is there, preserving soil moisture, keeping weeds at bay and putting nutrients back into my soil as is slowly decomposes. Thatch is your friend.

IMG_1692.jpg

BTW - Here is a photo of that same clover strip pictured above with the May dandelions. This is on June 18th - a month after spraying the clover strip with a light dose (3/4 Qt/Acre) of Gly. No dandelions, no grasses, no other broadleaf weeds - only clovers. One spraying per year in May is all it takes to maintain clovers perennially.

IMG_5798.jpg
 
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Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
Wow! That is a lot of seed for a 1/2 acre plot DR! Aside from the cereal grains (50# each per half acre is fine), I would not use that much clover and brassica seed on a full acre...of course I am drilling my seed - perhaps you are broadcasting?

Regarding timing, as others have mentioned, it all depends upon your latitude and the average first frost dates in your area. I am in Upper Michigan - Lat 46N - Zone 4b. With my average first frost date being in early to mid-September, I need to plant brassicas by early to mid-July in order to get a good 60 days growth on them. I now include a little clover in my brassica plantings but they don't really show up much until the following spring. I also broadcast some rye over the brassica plantings in mid-late August.

For establishing perennial clover plots I always start them in late August or September with a cover crop of cereal grains. Those clovers don't amount to much until the following spring either but the cereal grains provide a good nurse crop for the clovers and feed my deer during the fall and early spring. Once the rye or wheat (oats will winter kill here) gets taller than about 8-9 inches it won't be browsed much by deer but I am never in a hurry to terminate it as it doesn't hurt the clovers at all and I like a lot of thatch, whether that be for fawning cover, turkey bugging, a cover crop, a free crop of winter rye after mowing, or whatever. Thatch is your friend for soil health for sure.

I had not really thought much about decomposing rye using a lot of Nitrogen as it breaks don't but I suppose that is true. Nonetheless, I almost always have some legumes under the rye whether that is a nurse crop for clovers or a full cover crop so they are also producing N while the rye may be utilizing it. The terminated rye is also producing other nutrients like P and K into my soil as it decomposes so it is still a healthy nutrient cycling process IMO.

Like many of you, I used to mow my clovers a couple of times every year thinking the new growth would be preferred over taller clovers but I think that myth has been pretty much debunked by studies done by the University of Tennessee and others - so I don't mow clovers anymore. Here are some photos of clover use by our deer:

The strip on the right is just a strip of perennial clovers which I have around the outside edges of all of my food plots. The crop to the left is a brassica planting which I drilled on July 8th. This photo was taken one month later on August 5th. I included only 4# of clovers in with the brassicas seed (2# each of Med Red and Crimson per acre). You can't see any clovers here and they did not impact the growth of the brassicas at all.

View attachment 42164

The same plot on August 21 when I broadcasted cereal rye over top of the brassicas... I "spot" pails of rye seed around the plot to minimize my walking when I broadcast the seed.

View attachment 42165

The other end of the plot on the same date...

View attachment 42166

The same plot the following May 14th. All of the brassicas have been consumed by my deer and now the clovers and rye are coming up and still feeding my deer.
(On a side note - the dandelions and other broadleaf weeds that you see in the clover strip will be sprayed with a light dose of Gly in another week or so and will be gone for the rest of the year)

View attachment 42167

The other end of the plot on June 16th. The rye is way beyond being palatable to my deer but the clovers are doing well.

View attachment 42172

The other end of the plot on the same date. If you don't think the deer will browse clovers this tall...

View attachment 42174

think again!

View attachment 42175

There is no need to mow the clover or the rye IMO, until I am ready to plant the follow up crop.

I planted this small plot of perennial clovers the previous fall with a nurse crop of cereal rye. I had back surgery the following June and didn't get around to mowing the rye until August 5th. You would think that this much thatch would smother the new clovers...

View attachment 42176

Nope - by September 18th you wouldn't know there was any rye thatch there unless you looked under the clover....but it is there, preserving soil moisture, keeping weeds at bay and putting nutrients back into my soil as is slowly decomposes. Thatch is your friend.

View attachment 42177

BTW - Here is a photo of that same clover strip pictured above with the May dandelions. This is on June 18th - a month after spraying the clover strip with a light dose (3/4 Qt/Acre) of Gly. No dandelions, no grasses, no other broadleaf weeds - only clovers. One spraying per year in May is all it takes to maintain clovers perennially.

View attachment 42178
that all looks awesome! I am in northern PA in 6B, so 60 days from first frost is probably mid-August (when I planted this year and got decent growth). But I really want more tonnage and height of forage. I did go way overboard on the seeding rates, as I do broadcast and did not soil test, so I had no idea what would happen. As it starts to fill in this spring I am pretty impressed with how its looking. My plan going forward is to mow when the rye gets pretty tall and starts to form seed heads (I'm thinking mid-May-early June or so, but I could be convinced to let it go longer and be good fawning cover) and then let it go with no more mowing while keeping an eye on the weeds. My sprayer has an oz/gal setting, so if the weeds are bad I might just hit it with a 1 or 2oz/gal shot of gly to get rid of the weeds, though I don't think there will be all that many due to the rye and good clover coverage. I am surrounded by Ag so I really just want this plot to do well and be green during hunting season (it looked great this year). The plot right next to it will be the "new" plot that will be converting a hayfield into a brassica/grain/clover plot. Might switch up some of the clovers so they have a variety to choose from.
 

Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
rye is starting to get some height and fall-seeded clover is really waking up...found tons of little clover sprouts from the frost seeding..I always get impatient at this time of year but I expect them to take off big time this week...some bare spots but there are little clovers all over them...will keep an eye there to see if they need thickened up in a week or so
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