PDA

View Full Version : Year round food=clover?


scrimshaw33
01-26-2012, 10:47 PM
How many of you have success planting clover as your year round food plot for deer? That is, do you feel it provides your deer with everything they need, or close to it?

I'm really impressed with my Durana clover. There has honestly not been a period of time for 12 months that it was not green and deer were not eating it on my property.

I had standing corn, beans and winter wheat and while deer did graze in the winter wheat and show some preference to it over clover during the fall when it was emerging, the deer have been in the clover more than the corn (from my on site observations and from trail cameras census).

Not that I don't enjoy planting everything else, and I've already nixed out corn and beans for next year, but it isn't a bad thought to consider planting clover year round and not having to worry about planting anything else.

Anyone do this--year round plot=clover (white)?

criggster
01-26-2012, 11:09 PM
The problem I have with clover is that they like it too much during the fall and winter and graze it to the ground. Also, in dry weather years it goes dormant in the heat. I do agree that it is about as close to a 12 month crop as one can get. But, I do have to rely on other crops during the fall and winter that will produce more tonnage than clover can.

scrimshaw33
01-26-2012, 11:21 PM
I hear where your coming from. Maybe I don't have that issue yet since I had so much other food and perhaps I'll see that (overgrazing) next year if I don't have the abundance in other crops. I guess I don't see why one couldn't just plant more though. If they like it too much that's a great thing! Again, you could always plant more. The great thing about clover is that it will take over grazing and will keep coming back. Here, they ate it even during the summer and perhaps it was dormant, but mind here still seemed green and I always found deer scat in it indicating it was likely being used. Like you said though, perhaps it's close to perfect but not quite.

LetMGrow
01-27-2012, 12:13 AM
Clover won't work here all year long. With our normal winters it has been dormat since early October. This is when we get benefit from the taller beans, brassicas and standing corn. With a 2 to 3' snowcover even they can be hard for the deer to get to but they dig for the beans and brassicas. The corn is a little easier unless high winds and deep snow have impeded the access.
Lynn

CaveCreek
01-27-2012, 01:24 AM
Scrim: What you are lacking there is DROUGHT INSURANCE. If it turns up a bit dry, and or hotter than normal... then your animals may be wishing you had put a little something else on the plate. But yes, overall, a intermediate white clover, is going to fit the bill for the majority of the yr.

As LetMGrow mentions though, animals needs may be a bit different during winter. My animals have never really seemed to focus on my clover during hunting season. There is "something" to the energy vs protein, topic.

yoderj@cox.net
01-27-2012, 01:48 AM
Scrim,

I view perennial clover as the anchor to my food plot program, but I don't view it as a total solution. Keep in mind that we are in the south (you more so than me) and Summer is the greatest stress period for our deer.

Don't base your Durana evaluation on just the last year or so, because we have had unusually timely rain during the summer. Durana does go dormant for me in dry years and even in wet years it at least under performs during August.

My approach will be:

Clover as an anchor.
Beans with a little corn for summer with a cover crop surface broadcast in the fall.
Drill radish into established clover in August for added attractiveness and soil improvement.

Thanks,

Jack

Smallplot
01-27-2012, 04:00 AM
Skrim, the only thing deer in my neck of the woods would pass up clover for is alfalfa. Let me back up, alfalfa that is kept mowed and baled because when the stems get woody they tend to not mac on it as much.

La. habitat guy
01-27-2012, 06:08 AM
I have several plots of Durana clover that are between 1 and 6 years old. I know it's supposed to last 3-5 years, but with a little care, the clover just gets better. I mow them 3-4 times a year. This seems to control weeds better than spraying.

I'm not sure why, but deer either love them ,use them a little,or leave them alone.
I am considering planting an annual in my clover plots in the fall to increase utilization. Since I don't have a drill, I am considering broadcasting brassicas or radishes before a rain and going over this with a cultipacker. I have used a cultipacker over my clover and "the amazing Durana" bounces right back.

Does anyone have experience with this?

hrcarver
01-27-2012, 06:50 AM
My best balance of use and production is clover for spring and fall, soybeans for summer and winter. This year my clover is still green, but that is rare.

Nova
01-27-2012, 07:11 AM
I have to agree, as much of a clover fan as I have become the last couple years I would never rely on it soley. First of all because it's not possible in MN and secondly you always need a back up plan. Plus it's fun to plant other stuff

Darron
01-27-2012, 08:34 AM
Here in Ohio it seems like clover will provide feed through mid to late November. Most years it is still fairly warm through the end of November. Then it goes dormant Dec-Feb and starts to spring back up in March. In all, that's not bad because it can feed deer from March/April through the end of the November. That is 8 months it can theoretically provide food. Add in some areas of winter rye and turnips and one should have a year round food source for deer.....at least in Ohio.

mikmaze
01-27-2012, 08:42 AM
I am going with the jumbo ladino white with chicory in two new patches this year. The two seem to complement each other. and hopefully the deer figure out that the chicory is good to eat as the clover is. Kinda curious, how tall does the durana get?

j-bird
01-27-2012, 12:35 PM
Clover in my area is awesome in the spring and fall, but the summer can get dry and the winters can be hard. The biggest limitation to my clover is in the summer when it gets stemy and just is not actively growing. This is when the deer in my area hit the soybeans hard. I plant beans and corn to help during botht he dry of the summer and to keep a food source above the snow in the winter.

E_308
01-27-2012, 01:00 PM
I think if mixed with a winter grain rye or wheat it about as close as you can get to 12 months. Depending on the summer, on good years they have plenty to eat on dry years it shrivels up pretty quick. I always have a couple of acres of clover plots as well as the clover that grows in the CRP. Easy to manage and cheap to plant are always near the top of my list - good nutritional data and nitrogen fixation are nice to have though too.

yoderj@cox.net
01-27-2012, 01:01 PM
I am going with the jumbo ladino white with chicory in two new patches this year. The two seem to complement each other. and hopefully the deer figure out that the chicory is good to eat as the clover is. Kinda curious, how tall does the durana get?

I used to mix Chicory with clover when I was using ladino. There are pluses and minuses to the mix. These plants complement each other well and the deep tap root of chicory allows it to thrive during drought times when the clover is not performing. They both like similar mowing management. Eventually, the clover will out-compete the chicory and takeover the field. I was getting about 3 years or so before the chicory got so thin as not to be a factor. The other complicating factor of the mix is herbicide control. It is easier to find less costly herbicides for straight clover than the mix. All in all, I came down on the side of mixing when I was using ladino.

I stopped mixing when I moved to Durana. Durana is a low growing clover that is more competitive and crowds out the chicory sooner. So, I got less time where the chicory was providing benefit but the same cost for planting. The low growing aspect of Durana makes it a good candidate for wicking bar applied weed control. Mixing chicory would reduce that advantage. Since I've switched to Durana, I've stopped mixing chicory.

Whether mixing is a good choice for you depends on a lot of factors including the frequency of drought and what specific weed issues you might have.

dgallow
01-27-2012, 01:11 PM
Scrim....the year round sustainable food source for deer is a diverse early to mid successional native habitat...it is highly sustainable, locally adapted, and weather extreme resistant with a little work here and there...it will be there for Scrimmy Jr long after you pass and with continued sustainablility if he is taught good stewardship of the native lands (a dying art IMO).

The more and more one moves to and relies upon monoculture forages/crops the more one should notice how nature reisists that practice...she always places the weeds which the soil needs (both grasses and broadleaves) but seldom do folks see that for what it is worth (soil health)....they are just weeds right?...and we have to control those right?...but why do we have those particular weeds, what is lacking to soil health, and what does it mean LONG TERM?...why is nature repairing the soil in this manner in response to what we have done?

As for the sustainablility of clover? It will do well for many years, but is only one component (cool season broadleaf) of the plant classes (cool season grasses, cool season broadleaves, warm season grasses, warm season broadleaves, and woody plants) which feed deer 365/7 and with many plants coming and going as each year passes. When you do pass, Scrim, nature will soon envelope the clover with other plant species as she always works against a monoculture....viable hard clover seeds will be 'tucked under the covers' awaiting proper disturbace for regeneration.

My point, Scrim, is to think wholistically for sustainable wildlife management! Observe, study and try to understand the postiive effects that a diverse and good native range have on many living systems from the smallest of life to the largest of life....plant, animal, bug and microbe...put sustainable soil practices first and the soil will take care of you LONG TERM! Nature has many random events but the entire process is 'pre-programmed'...observe and learn on your own farm! :)

scrimshaw33
01-27-2012, 04:27 PM
dgallow, are you saying to consider going "all - naturale". Anyone here every done that with no noticable difference b/t it and planting crops? Would definitely optimize cover!

ICALL2MUCH
01-27-2012, 04:49 PM
Every winter, since we've owned this farm deer are in our clover fields all. the. time. come January. This picture was taken 3 hours before daylight. Ended up being a dozen deer in the field. That is a lot for us! :)

I'm with you scrim!

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7013/6772785293_2ed14b36c8_b.jpg

ClemsonTiger
01-27-2012, 08:57 PM
Scrim, I don't know what part of NC your property is in but my place is in the Upstate of SC. Probably fairly similar conditions to where you are but possibly very different soils. Mine is mostly a red clay base.

I have gone with mostly Durana along with quite a few orchards of plums for late summer stress periods. I also have tons of blackberry (summer) and honneysuckle (winter). I have also been experimenting with some different perennial cool season grasses with good results so far.

I feel like the most difficult time for my deer is the summer stress period. Luckily one of my bordering land owners has started leasing his hay field to farmers that are now doing soybeans and wheat rotations. One thing I have found fascinating is even with all those soybeans right across the creek my deer absolutely hammer kudzu all summer on my property. They bed on the edges of it and eat any new tips that sprout. They have done this for years but I was surprised they kept it up to the same extent with all those soybeans literally 60 yards away.

My Durana has been by far the best thing I have ever planted. I am experimenting some with Yuchi Arrowleaf Clover in a couple of plots I planted this past fall. I have been impressed with it's summer resilience on a friends property. The Durana has not gone dormant this winter because it has been so mild. During the past two harsh winters it went dormant by mid December and did not start coming on until the second week of March. It also will go dormant to where you think you have lost it during drought times. Don't worry it will come right back if you can keep the crabgrass form taking over first.

One thing I tried this fall was to broadcast winter wheat into my clover plots in October just before a good rain. Within a week I had a nice mix of clover and wheat. I have heard rye grain works even better than wheat for this but the seed store was out at the time. I think broadcasting the grain will help utilize some of the nitrogen the clover is putting out.

I feel like I may have a little too much clover around so it is hard to tell which plot the deer will utilize on a given day. The bucks do seem to just cruise from plot to plot though looking for where the does are so it's not a bad thing.

yoderj@cox.net
01-27-2012, 09:53 PM
dgallow, are you saying to consider going "all - naturale". Anyone here every done that with no noticable difference b/t it and planting crops? Would definitely optimize cover!

In practical terms, this requires lots of land. The only practical way to achieve this is multiple management units of timber. You can create this by clear-cutting, but how do you maintain it? Planting pines will work for a few years, but no one wants to harvest pines until they are tall enough to fit on a logging truck. You can divide you land into management units and rotate timbering so that you always have some management unit in early successional timber. Loggers don't want to mess with small stands of timber. In fact my forester tells me that he suggest that small landowners plant pines in mature pine densities rather than planting in thick densities and thinning. Even though it is better to plant denser and thin for a number of reasons, you just can find loggers willing to thin on small acreages. You can use fire to help the situation.

Personally, I view early successional timber and one important aspect to my program. I see it as necessary but not sufficient. Dgallow is right that it does provide a year round food source for the years it is in early succession.

This is one reason that I'm more focused on Warm Season Annuals. My early successional timber provides great food in the winter, but when things dry up in the summer I love those WSAs. That is not to say that there are not native food still viable in the summer.

mikmaze
01-27-2012, 10:04 PM
thank you yoder, If the clover chokes out the chicory eventually that is fine, by then maybe I will have another field ready to do in just chicory, or a field with strips of each about 10 feet wide.

yoderj@cox.net
01-27-2012, 10:07 PM
Yes, I didn't think it was necessarily a bad thing that the clover eventually took over. I always kind of thought of my chicory component as crop insurance against drought.

scrimshaw33
01-27-2012, 10:09 PM
And when I say year round food source, in terms of clover, I mean maybe in NC or around my area, as here it just appears to produce year round. Maybe no one plant can really do that, but Durana comes close in NC.

scrimshaw33
01-27-2012, 11:59 PM
Article by Kent Kammermyer: http://www.buckmasters.com/top-stories/land-management/lm-articles.aspx?articleType=ArticleView&articleId=375 (although I'm not a buckmasters fan, the article was found on their site;))...

A few food plots were already there in the 1970's but they were in fungus infected fescue or orchard grass. Just as agronomist Dr. Bill Sell was launching us into a perennial clover food plot program, The Whitetail Institute came out with Imperial Whitetail Clover. We were the first to put it to the scientific test in 1980. After two years of monthly clipping, our results indicated that Regal, Osceola, and Imperial white clovers were all highly productive (up to 10,000 pounds/acre/year dry weight), high quality (20-30 percent protein and 70-80 percent digestibility), and available basically for 10 months of the calendar year (all except December and January). We knew then that we were on the right track because we were already using Regal and Osceola white clovers.

(Maybe this is mostly in the South that clover produces food most of the year, but good for me I live in the South!)

JamieE
01-28-2012, 10:09 AM
I'm in northern IN and with the unusually mild whether the deer easily prefer the clover plots over all my other plots. It's impressive that it's almost February and the deer are hitting the clover every night. The few times the temps have dropped into the twenties and snowed, the deer were in the standing beans, but were still digging through the snow to get to the clover. That being said not all winters are the same so I will continue to plant a variety of food.

THOMAS9N
01-28-2012, 11:29 AM
MY DEER are digging thru the snow to get at my clover, with a 1/2 acre of turnups untouched beside it. i am expanding my clover plots this year.

LetMGrow
01-28-2012, 02:51 PM
I looked back through these responses and was surprised at how you could almost draw a map to the differing opinions.
States represented here: Indiana, Ohio, No. Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Missiouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, New York, Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota.
It seems as the southern states can pretty much get away with a single type planting with their weather being more consistant through the 12 months, the northern states have to be more diverse and use more seasonably tailored plantings.
I have a large clover field now. One thing I have observed though is for the first three years of planting the deer are really attracted to it. The next, not so much. This past year very little. I pulled some plants and played with them, actually chewed on a couple and tasted them. I found the plants were a little on the bitter side and much chewier than they were the first three years.
The clover still looks good, very little grass competition and no bare spots. This looks like it would still have some time left, however I am seriously considering turning it over and replanting. It seems senseless for me to spend time and money to maintain a field just because it still looks good but is not attractive to deer.
I've pondered doing only 1/2 but don't want to leave 10 acres untouched by the deer because the newer clover is more attractive.
Here in NY I still have to be more diverse in my seed selection just because of the wide climate swings. Summers it can get into the 90's, winters, heavy snow and below 0 days.
Lynn

JamieE
01-28-2012, 03:01 PM
Letmgrow, that's strange that the deer leave your clover alone after 3 years as this is never the case with mine. Have you checked the ph level on the field? How about fertilizer?

scrimshaw33
01-28-2012, 03:17 PM
Something else I'm planning on doing is planting some leyland cypress in my clover plots. They grow tall and thin and are evergreen and should provide great screening yet allow enough sun to hit to the ground for clover. Of course maintenance might be a beast, but if I just let the deer clip it and only frost seed I should be OK other than fertilizing and liming periodically which could be done by hand if necessary.

LetMGrow
01-28-2012, 03:26 PM
I didn't mean to imply the deer leave it alone. What I am saying is I have other plots around it and the deer don't come as much into the clover as they have previously. The same thing happened after the clover I planted in 2002 got four and five years old.
I tore the field up in 2007 and replanted it.
I'm thinking, I mow this field 4-5 times a year for weed control. Each time in a different direction. Maybe the clover is getting stronger as it is regenerating.
My P.H. last spring was 6.9. I applied 0-0-34 200# per acre in early June.
Lynn

mikmaze
01-28-2012, 07:51 PM
scrim, the deer will not touch the leyland, its like they know its a freak of nature hybrid and don't eat it. Red cedar on the other hand grows a bit slower but they eat them too, and if planted close as they get large could be selectively hinge cut providing cover and good browse.

scrimshaw33
01-29-2012, 06:28 PM
They might not eat it but they sure will rub mine without a cage!;)

D Hunter
01-29-2012, 08:40 PM
Does anybody till or disc their durana and find it responds well? We have had several fields of durana that just got overwhelmed with weeds. It seems that if you just till the field it comes back predominantly with durana. I think it has lots of internodes on the stolons running along the surface of the ground. If you till it or disc it you cut these stolons into pieces and mix them up with the topsoil. Now each piece of stolon becomes a new plant starting anew. It also kills most of the weeds or grasses in the plot. We have never done this on purpose as a maintenance of durana principle, only to start over. Seems the durana likes it. Anybody else seen this? "D"

RACER 99
01-31-2012, 05:41 AM
Does anybody till or disc their durana and find it responds well? We have had several fields of durana that just got overwhelmed with weeds. It seems that if you just till the field it comes back predominantly with durana. I think it has lots of internodes on the stolons running along the surface of the ground. If you till it or disc it you cut these stolons into pieces and mix them up with the topsoil. Now each piece of stolon becomes a new plant starting anew. It also kills most of the weeds or grasses in the plot. We have never done this on purpose as a maintenance of durana principle, only to start over. Seems the durana likes it. Anybody else seen this? "D"

dhunter...I noticed the same thing with my alice clover plots fall before last. I disced half of an alice clover plot in order to sow some cereal grains for diversity on my West Kentucky Farm thinking the clover would be gone. However, The following spring the clover came back strong as ever!

Furthermore, I have noticed that deer on my west ky farm are very partial to my clover from feb to the end of july then seem to look for better alternatives until fall rains perk the clover back up. I to have planted corn, soybeans, cereal grains/trophy radishes and alfalfa this past year on my farm. The clover and cereal grains by far had the most activity this past year from early to mid fall. The corn came into its own from dec until now, but the spring planted soybeans were demolished by the end of july and replanted to a cereal grain/trophy radish plot. The deer loved the cereal grains but never really hit the trophy radish that hard. Not sure about the alfalfa until spring due to just starting it this past fall.

IMO, The beans/corn are good at drawing deer during summer/late fall. I only had 1.5 acres to plant to beans, which didn't make it to fall, so they are not a priority for me moving forward. The corn did draw deer when it got cold and I did kill a nice doe on a cold snowy December day with my bow hunting over the corn. However, there were a couple hunts over that same corn field plot during oct-nov. and did not see but maybe 1 or 2 deer total on both occasions.

In comparison, We did have more sightings in our cereal grain/clover plots every time they were hunted vs. the corn/radish. We hunt minimally over all of our plots, but saw the most deer (anywhere from 4-15 deer) in the cereal grain/ clover plots as mentioned.

So, in closing, a monoculture probably isn't the best for us, but you could argue that just planting cereal grains/clover plots within proximity to security cover would get you the most bang for your buck! I will concentrate on corn (security-food) clover and cereal grains from now on. Jury is still out on the alfalfa, but it should turn out good. The beans and radish will be dropped to a limited or rotational basis on my farm due to available acreage and preference.

hrcarver
01-31-2012, 06:35 AM
Does anybody till or disc their durana and find it responds well? We have had several fields of durana that just got overwhelmed with weeds. It seems that if you just till the field it comes back predominantly with durana. I think it has lots of internodes on the stolons running along the surface of the ground. If you till it or disc it you cut these stolons into pieces and mix them up with the topsoil. Now each piece of stolon becomes a new plant starting anew. It also kills most of the weeds or grasses in the plot. We have never done this on purpose as a maintenance of durana principle, only to start over. Seems the durana likes it. Anybody else seen this? "D"

Timing will be the trick on that. Early fall I like your chances, no way in spring.

JamieE
01-31-2012, 08:11 AM
I also have noticed this with clover. I usually till the clover plots up good and plant to rr corn and by fall I have a very lush looking plot of clover growing between the corn rows.