Stirring up Natural Growth

Discussion in 'Habitat Forum' started by Okiehunter, May 2, 2002.

  1. Okiehunter

    Okiehunter Senior Refuge Member

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    Jun 5, 2000
    Location:
    Norman, Oklahoma
    My primary hunting spot is a 35 acre wetland. We flood it in the fall and maintain the water level till after the birds have moved back north in the spring. It holds 6 to 24 inches of water. Usually by mid June it has dried out. We disc it up while still moist. It is amazing how much this helps the vegitation grow. The gradual drying causes the surface dirt to be quite hard thus making it difficult for many of the seedy duck plants to grow. When we breakup that top layer of soil you can almost watch smartweed grow.

    We tried broadcasting millet several times but it just didn't want to grow. Discing the soil takes less effort and yielded much more in the way of seedy vegitation. I think the ducks prefer the natural stuff anyway.

    My two cents
    Okiehunter
     
  2. silvermallard

    silvermallard Elite Refuge Member

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    Sep 27, 2001
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Generally speaking, you should only have to disk a moist-soil management unit once every 3-5 years. On larger tracts, you do this in rotation. If you leave the water on that long, then draw down gradually to June, then you should not have much vegetation left...the water should rot most of it. What's left, either mow or burn. This eliminates some of the "competition" factors for new growth (shading, nutrient leeching, etc.). Burning causes grasses to come back thicker. It is not as beneficial for broadleaf plants, like Smartweeds. Once it's been dry for a few weeks and vegetation grows to about 8-12", you can begin putting water back on...just enough to keep the soil moist. If you get a lot of barnyard grass (wild millet) in July, mow it to a uniform height of 18" after it puts on a seed head, but before it ripens. This will increase seed production, put a lot of seed on ground for ducks, and keep final seed head from ripening until closer to duck season (less consumed by songbirds).

    I've tried mowing the smartweeds to about 12", too. That has a similar effect...if they come in too early. Songbirds can't feed in the water, and this can result in more food for ducks in Fall if you time it right and have a songbird population that warrants the extra effort.

    YOU CANNOT MANIPULATE A FIRST-YEAR MILLET PLANTING IF YOU INTEND TO HUNT THERE. But with your Smartweeds, this is not an issue.
     
  3. ramsey

    ramsey Elite Refuge Member

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    Jun 19, 2001
    discing can be a good practice but be careful --- in this part of the world soil disturbance without chemical applications equals dense stands of coffee weed - yuck!
     
  4. silvermallard

    silvermallard Elite Refuge Member

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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hawaii
    Chemical application is another vital part of "moist-soil voodoo."

    If your desire is for a seed head grass-dominant environment, you can put down a 1/4 mixture of a broadleaf herbicide such as 2-4-D as you see sprouting after disking, but before unwanted broadleafs achieve 12" height and/or seeding. On cockleburs, you want to catch them when they first put on green seed buds. Wait a few days and then irrigate to about 1" depth (as long as 1/3 of the desirable vegetation is above water you're OK). This has to be closely timed if you want to kill cockleburs. They're tough. FYI...dead cockleburs will not decompose. They will remain standing, but the seeds will not develop/germinate and the leaves will wither. Once the shading effect of their leaves is gone and the plant is no longer absorbing nutrients, the grasses will take off like a rocket.

    If your desire is for a broadleaf-dominant environment, then draw down early and apply pre-emergent Roundup after disking and before planting. If you are not planting, earlier drawdowns equal beneficial broadleaf propagation, and later drawdowns (June/July) yield more seed head grasses. However, a fast drawdown in July or August will be cocklebur heaven! As with everything in moist-soil management, timing is critical. If you wait that long to draw down, it is HIGHLY recommended that you apply broadleaf herbicide as described above. Virtually all beneficial broadleafs will be past germination dates, and cocklebur is in its IDEAL germination window. This holds true in climate zones from the Gulf Coast to the upper Midwest.
     

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