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Green Browse Food Plots

Green Browse Food Plots

Green browse plots provide attractive and nutritious food to complement native food supplies. In addition to providing improved nutrition, they also attract wildlife and concentrate them in the area surrounding the plot.

These plots are of two kinds:

  1. An all-purpose plot of legumes with a thin stand of grass provides green forage for turkeys, deer and rabbits, and an abundance of insects for turkeys and quail. The addition of Summit or Korean lespedeza to the plot will provide lespedeza seed for quail, as well as green forage for other wildlife during summer periods when clovers may become dormant.
  2. If interested only in deer or rabbits, smaller plots of legumes without grass will produce much more green forage. Such lush stands are not preferred by turkeys or quail.

Location

Select a site which is open and tillable but adjacent to suitable cover. Stay at least 20 yards from any woodland edge to reduce competition with trees and to permit the establishment of a buffer strip of perennials and shrubs between the food plot and the timber. Plots should be placed on flat ridge tops, bottom lands, or along the contour of a gentle slope.

Size and Number

For deer and turkey: The plots should be placed about 1/4 mile apart, or one per 40 acres and be a minimum of one acre in size. For rabbits: The plots should be spaced one per six acres and may be as small as 1//4 acre.

Fertilization and Seedbed Preparation

Seedbeds for both kinds of plots should be prepared in September or early October. Fertilizer should be applied and worked into the soil at eh time of seedbed preparation. Correct fertilization is essential for successful establishment and long term maintenance of the plots. If possible, a sample of soil from the plots should be taken to the County Extension Office for analysis of fertilizer needs. (Emphasize the nature and purpose of the legume plot). Extension will then provide recommendations for both initial fertilization and annual top dressings of fertilizer. If such recommendations for a start application, then correct and deficiencies by top dressing additional amounts as recommended by the agent.

  1. Agricultural Limestone - If the site has not been lime previously, apply eight tons per acre. If it has been limed within five years. apply only four tons per acre.
  2. Fertilizer - If the following high analysis fertilizers are available in your community, an optimum rate of fertilization can be achieved by applying (per acre):
    60 pounds of ammonium nitrate (33%) to provide 20 pounds of nitrogen plant food.
    400 pounds of super phosphate (45%) to provide 180 pounds of phosphate plant food.
    200 pounds of Muriate of potash (60%) to provide 120 pounds of potash plant food.
    If the above analysis fertilizers are not available, apply an amount of available mixed fertilizer that will provide at least 120 pounds of phosphate plant food and 100 pounds of potash plant food. For example, 500 pounds of 6-24-24 will provide 30 pounds of nitrogen plant food, 120 pounds of phosphate plant food and 120 pounds of potash plant food. Care should be taken not to apply more than 40 pounds of nitrogen plant food because it will stimulate growth of grasses and weeds excessively so that they crowd out the legumes.

Note: High analysis fertilizer probably will be available only in bulk. If small quantities are needed, ask your dealer to allow you to bag needed quantities of each.

Seeding Method and Rate of Seeding

  1. The one acre all-purpose plot should be uniformly seeded with 1/2 bushel of wheat and two pounds of orchard grass at the time of seedbed preparation. At the same time or in early winter, overseed half of the plot with two pounds of Ladino clover and two pounds of red clover. (During January through March, overseed the other half with ten pounds of Korean or Summit lespedeza.) If the soil within the plot is not uniformly productive, seed the clovers on the best site and lespedeza on the poorer site.
  2. The deer and rabbit green browse plot should be uniformly seeded with wheat at the rate of 1/2 bushel per acre, along with five pounds per acre of either inoculated alfalfa, Ladino clover, red clover, a mixture of these, or two pounds per acre of birdsfoot trefoil. The wheat will die after the first year, but the legume should persist and furnish succulent browse for three to five years.

Maintenance

Clip the plots each year between July 1 and 15 and top dress the plot with 50 pounds of phosphate plant food and 50 pounds of potash plant food each September. Omit nitrogen fertilizer if possible. If you must use a fertilizer containing nitrogen, apply less than 20 pounds of nitrogen plant food per acre. Renovate and reseed when grasses or weeds have crowded out the desired legumes.

Protection

For maximum value to wildlife, plantings must be protected from excessive grazing. Light grazing that would remove about one-half of the growth during the last half of June is desirable in lieu of clipping. Do not graze during the fall or winter months.

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