GameKeepers Emag

Gamekeepers Winter 2015

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Page 132 of 155

#farmingforwildlife 131 Now, we know what you're thinking – I don't have time to measure forage production every month on all my plots or I don't want to disturb my plots by trapesing around in them all the time. And those may be perfectly legitimate rea- sons not to go out and collect the forages. However, that does not diminish the value of the exclusion cage. There is still value to seeing how tall the forage is inside the cage ver- sus outside. Not only is it pleasing to see the difference inside the cage from the stand while anticipating seeing the mouths that did it, but it also allows you to see when you had a crop failure or when you have a weed problem. It is hard to know whether a food plot is a dirt patch because of deer or poor germination if you don't use a cage. Evaluating Long-Term Performance You have learned how to measure the productivity and utilization of deer food plots, but how do you know if the plots are doing any good? We think there are two possible answers, depending on your objectives. First, some people plant food plots simply to facilitate deer observations and harvests. There is nothing wrong with that, but keep in mind, this type of food plot is typically not providing the amounts of forage that will produce bigger bodies and antlers. In this case, you improved the deer's diet quality, but not enough to cause measureable changes in deer quality. Examples include providing only fall food plots with food available during the fall and winter, and/or providing a very limited acreage of food plots. You have provided enough food to modify deer behavior, but not enough to "see" a change in the deer herd. Weed ID Kudzu You would be hard pressed to live east of the Mississippi River and not seen, know of, or had to deal with kudzu. Kudzu was brought into the U.S. in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition as an ornamental and house plant. Before everyone knew of its inva- sive nature, kudzu was planted all over the east- ern U.S. as a form of ero- sion control. From the 1930's into the 1950's, the Soil Conservation Service actu- ally paid and encouraged farmers to plant kudzu to help with erosion due to deep tilling farming practice. It was later discov- ered that the hot and humid climate of the southeast was near perfect growing conditions for the vine, and with no natural predators it became known as "the vine that ate the south." If you are one of the unlucky people that has this invasive plant trying to take over your property there are some things you can do to establish some control over it. Being a legume, kudzu is a great forage for livestock. Everything from pigs to cattle to deer seem to enjoy the leafy forage. Continued grazing or cul- tivation for multiple years has shown to be effective in controlling the spread by depleting root reserves and taking back areas that the vine has claimed. When using mechanical means to kill kudzu it is not necessary to remove all vines, only the crowns that grow on or below the soil surface underneath the leaves. The crowns can be anywhere from marble to basketball size and must be totally removed to prevent vines from coming back. Total eradication of kudzu could be a 2-10 year undertaking and usually involves repeat herbicide applications. For a detailed list of effective herbicides and application rates visit the Alabama Cooperative Extension System site.

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