Creating natural habitats for wildlife doesn’t just happen overnight. If you remember, we have spent time getting our food plots ready and using timber practices to prepare the land. We updated everyone here about how our food plots are developing and now you can see what it looks like after about 6 months.
Skid Road Food Plot Update
In late spring, mostly due to the substantial amounts of rain we received and are still seeing, we planted three food plots consisting of clover and deer radishes. I completed soil tests on all the locations with a soil test kit from the Southern States Coop, and each of the sites was on the acidic side. Per directions, I added Ag-Lime in a pelletized version and then tilled it into the soil. Gave the lime a few weeks to a month and planted each plot.
The skid road food plots I planted right after the logging was completed did grow; however, the soil is still very poor. Heavy red clay with a lot of sandstone rock which required multiple sessions of rock removal and we are still not done.
The clover only patch in my second skid road plot came up, but the plants only made it to about 6 inches. It apparently ran out of nutrients in the soil as the stems were weak and fragile and the plot just did not produce the biomass expected.
The first food plot immediately off my southern bedding area was a mix of clover and radishes. It multiplied and established an 8-10″ high clover/radish patch. It also lacked quality soil as the plot was thin. The clover did better; however, the radishes did not produce the radish. They grew to 10 inches in height, but never grew the radish that the deer love.
Clearly, this area which has had poor soil needs some TLC this fall and winter. I will till both plots under and prep more soil tests. I will likely use some extra turnip seed I have to re-plant both for a fall crop and see how that does.
The hilltop plot had similar results, however, because it had been planted in previous years and had more grasses established the clover did much better. The radishes provided new cover from deer browsing, and a temporary fence allowed for the plot to develop. The radishes did not produce very many radishes at this location either.
The clover did much better, and the deer started eating it in July once we removed the fencing. They continued to feed on the clover until I plowed it under and they also ate all the tops out of the radishes.
Overall my I give my food plot efforts across all three plots a disappointing D. The plots did provide some mid-summer food sources, but very little.
On to the fall plots and we will see how those turn out.
Logging Outcomes – The Pros
The impacts of the logging on the deer habitat will take another year to realize, but some of the areas where we followed-up the select cut harvest with some mineral stump cutting (more to follow in a future article on mineral stumps) and bedding area creation have been immediate successes.
Near my parent’s home, I removed a lot of Red Maple by hinge-cutting in the winter and last spring. I followed that with a June cutting of more Red Maple for mineral stumps.
This area is nearly 6 acres, and so far the deer have taken a liking to the area. A young 6 point has moved in, a doe raised her twins in the area and her twins from last year have joined them.
Below are a few photos of the mineral stumps and vegetation available.
Logging Outcomes – The Cons
One item, which I apparently was not prepared for and underestimated, was the spread of the neighboring property’s Japanese Stiltgrass.
This invasive species is another whole article, but below is a quick photo of Japanese Stiltgrass. I will keep you updated on the task of containment and removal.
The areas not affected by the Japanese Stiltgrass have started to come alive with native vegetation and the second photo shows the start of great native habitat.
Natural Habitats Take Time
Again, all of these practices are going to take time and some experimenting to see what will work best for our land and wildlife. It is important to keep testing out options and see what the wildlife in your area like. Keep the end game in mind and focus on the long haul. You will be happy you stuck with it!