What to plant

Discussion in 'Habitat Forum' started by rascal, Apr 23, 2002.

  1. rascal

    rascal Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2000
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I want to plant some sort of food plot but have certain requirements. Public lakes with a lot of silt,water clarity to about 10" or so with a muck base in all water less then 3ft deep. The water is dark enough that even coontail will not grow in these lakes. Is there anything I can plant for the ducks in the water that will grow under these conditions? I planted millet on the shore before but heavy summer rains flooded it all out before it matured so I am thinking no millet.
     
  2. silvermallard

    silvermallard Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    3,682
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2001
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Well, I hate to poke holes in anybody's balloon, but here's a few observations:

    1. That sounds like a very difficult environment to grow anything worthwhile in.

    2. Most places, you could get in no small amount of trouble for planting aquatics in public lakes. I've seen some that took years and cost millions to fix after non-native species took over a few years after introduction. DNR's et al get a little torqued when they hear about this sort of thing. If you can get aquatics to grow, they often really take off and over-proliferate...killing off everything else, messing up hydrology, fish habitat, etc.
     
  3. pentail

    pentail Administrator Moderator Flyway Manager

    Messages:
    2,163
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2001
    Location:
    willisburg KY
    rascal
    on this topic at least, silver mallard and I agree. instead of planting a non-native or ag type crop, get in touch with your state dept of fish and wildlife. Most have a native plant specialist that can suggest plants that will do well in your area and benifit the ducks as well. Native plant restoration is high on the to do list of most fish and wildlife depts and they usually apreciate all the help they can get:)
     
  4. Marshmaster

    Marshmaster Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    8,378
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2000
    Location:
    Plymouth, MN
    Rascal,

    Get in touch with your DNR like everyone else has recommended. They'll probably have a wetlands specialist that works with the native plants. If you have a heavy infestation of rough fish, there's not going to be a whole lot you can do until they are under control for no matter how much you do with the plants, they'll just come around and root 'em all up again.

    It may take a Roetenone treatment, stocking of Northerns and other predator fish, controlling fish access to the area, and a drawdown to get the habitat back to where it was. The DNR may already be working on a habitat plan so again, check with them.

    Marshmaster
     
  5. MSDuckmen

    MSDuckmen Moderator Moderator

    Messages:
    3,660
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Location:
    Brandon, Mississippi
    What has been brought up has great merit,
    The deal is, and this is what I do.
    Plant what will not come back on their own.

    If your wanting to plant in a lake that holds water year round it is my belief that you are spending good time for low profits.

    This is the deal with me. I plant many places that I and no one else hunts, This is for the ducks and other waterfowl. I also plant places that I fully intend to hunt and those places is where I plant food that when the waters rises it will be taken over and thus produces a food source for the birds for a short period.
    Rag Weed, coffee weed, Sunflowers, wheat, Millet, milo, smart weed, and even peas.

    These will only return on a very limited bases and is not intended to be a long term source of food for the waterfowl.

    Millet will grow and come to a head in on two months thus making it great for a place that floods quickly.

    The concept here is to think what it is that your trying to create and then you must use the environment to your advantage.
    Lakes are hard to produce food in and most waterfowl use these areas as resting areas and not for food most of the time. (with the exception of divers)
     
  6. Mudhen-PA

    Mudhen-PA Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    865
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2000
    Location:
    Fairfield, PA, USA
    Tough problem and some good posts in response.

    First problem is PUBLIC ! Don't do anything without the local authorities ok.

    Second problem, from our experience is the turbidity. Sun to a 10" depth will not suit many underwater plants.

    Third problem, which you didn't say anything about, is the current wildlife using the lake. Muskrats, beaver, and some of the rough fish will eat or destroy a lot of your efforts.

    We plant some private farm ponds similar to the lake you are describing. Some are large and some are small. Some are isolated, and some have movement through them from a stream or a spring.

    We have our best luck under these conditions planting things which do not necessarily spread rapidly, but which are hardy and grow from their tubers or shoots placed in the mud along the banks. Primarily, wapato duck potato is a good one. It only grows clumps of triangular shaped leaves about 10 or 12 inches high which are not palatable. It's the root system that grows nodules which waterfowl (and muskrats) like to eat, and if it takes hold it will provide a nice source of food. We also have some luck by putting in some button brush plants along the bank, just a few inches from the water. These will spread, and they grow nice seed pods that ducks like, but they have to be protected during the first few years with fencing. we put in 18" spikes, surrond them with wire fence which has to remain for about 3 years. Otherwise the critters will just eat up the tender buds and even the shoots. This is a big bush to small tree when it matures, so you should have the ok of the folks who control the lake, or they will just mow or cut it down. There are a couple of kinds of smart weed we also use, but again, these look like weeds to the untrained eye, and on a public lake, they could just be cut down.

    As others have said, your best bet here might be to cooperate with the local folks and plant some upland foods or cover which go down to the edge of the lake. A lot of that stuff does double duty for waterfowl and upland game and can be used for food and cover.

    And I can't agree with the statement about consulting a good wetlands biologist strongly enough ! We have one in our regional waterfowl association we consult with regularly and he has straightened us out on a lot of things we could only be guessing at.
     
  7. rascal

    rascal Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2000
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Thanks guys. I did email the game and parks with this question before posting here but am still waiting for a responce.
     

Share This Page