The clovers are coming on like gangbusters. All brands have emerged and are doing well. The picture above shows how the one acre field of different manufacturer's seeds is starting to green up. The local mixture that I received is coming on too but is not as mature as the other blends. The varieties of annual and perennial plantings are all four weeks old and have received consistent sun and moisture over that time. The temperatures were in the upper 80's for three days last week after constant showers the week before. In that period the fields seemed to explode with growth. The food plots have all been transformed from a brown tone to a lush green. That is happening but not however without consequences.
The Mossy Oak Biomaxx and LabLab are taking a beating from a number of animals and insects. I have found where turkeys, crows and other birds have been pulling up the corn in the Biomaxx. Last week I chased a group of about a dozen turkeys from the field. They were pecking the corn from the ground, eating the bottom and leaving the stock. The deer are also nibbling on the young sprouts and taking quite a toll. You can see in the photo what is left to the corn after the turkey and other birds get through with it. If the animals continue to take a toll on this particular plot I will have no other choice but to replant within the next two weeks.
The LabLab is also getting hammered by some sort of insect. A week ago it was fine, pictured at left, and coming up great and I was very excited about the upcoming weeks. The plants are still coming on but as you can see are just getting badly eaten. I looked over the plants but could not see the little culprit causing it. This is puzzling because it is the only food plot that this is happening to. I have notified my Mossy Oak Biologic contact to see if he can suggest anything or what may be causing this.
Below are a few of the different clover blends:
Animals are beginning to browse on the new growth from all varieties planted. Within the next few weeks (by July 1st) I will begin placing Trail Cameras throughout the plots.
Update June 19th, 2006 You can really see where the deer are starting to hammer a variety of the food plots. The clovers are beginning to see heavy traffic with the deer leaving their calling card piles. Two plots are beginning to stand out a little better than the rest at this time, the Antler King Mini Max and Whitetail Institute Chicory Plus. Antler King's Mini Max is a clover variety mix which also contains Bridger Rapeseed.
The deer are really hammering the Bridger Rapeseed as seen in the first picture below on the left. Whitetail Institute's Chicory Plus is probably the best and fullest stand of clover that has emerged since planting six weeks ago. It is seeing a heavy amount of deer presence.
The other blends of seed mixtures are doing well, except for the Biomaxx. My reasoning behind this is twofold. First of all the young plants were hit hard and are still being grazed heavily, especially by the deer now. Secondly, I used a broadcast method for planting setup for 45 lbs. per acre. I believe I should have increased this amount by as much as 33% and now recommend 60 lbs. per acre. I arrived at this amount by consulting with Todd Amenrud from Biologic. I also believe that drilling this product is the best means of planting and will use this means in the future. The only mixture of this product that is doing well is within the utility cage as seen below. You can see other stocks growing around the cage but these have been severly damaged from overbrowsing.
Below you can also see how the Biologic LabLab is making a comeback from the pesky beetles. I used the broadcast means for this product as well but in the future will resort to drilling.
The other varieties of Frigid Forage Product are coming along very well also. The Monster Magnet is seeing some browsing and may pick up as the deer get more familiar with it. The Dwarf Essex Rapeseed content of the WallHanger is seeing heavy browsing similar to the Antler King MiniMax product.
All and all at this time I am very impressed with the outcome of the work put into these 2 1/2 acre food plots. I do see all the products advancing at a better rate then the regular clover varieties purchased at the local farmers equity. I look forward to the coming weeks, especially as I begin to place trail cameras around the food plots.
Update July 1, 2006 I was estatic when I strolled the property today. I placed two cameras on the plots last week and was surprised with over 40 quality pictures of deer. The picture below shows ten deer, mostly bucks, feeding within the clover and brassica mixtures. Picture 25 The clover varieties are approximately six inches high or more. At this stage I would have to say that the Whitetail Institute Chicory Plus is coming on the strongest with Antler King's MiniMax blend a close second. The Chicory Plus is very full and dense with mature growth. The Minimax, although not as dense is showing good growth with the rapeseed getting hit hard. As you can see from the photos below the utility fences show the results.
I had to replace two cages on my last trip in the Frigid Forage Wall Hanger and Wild Game Buffet. Something was able to knock them over, thereby browsing the crop down to the level of the surrounding plot. I was expecting the deer to not take a liking to the turnips and beets this early but I have found several pulled from the ground and eaten. The leaf tops are also being eaten but not as much as the other "greens" within the plots.
The other plots are doing very well also. The deer are browsing on all the plots now and are still taking a heavy toll on the Biomaxx Product. They are not allowing the corn and soybeans (mostly the soybeans) to get established at all. I believe this seed variety will be a staple product in my plots for the coming years. You can see the nice variety within the utility cage and the overbrowsed corn and soybeans around outside of it. Now the clovers are being hit hard also, but with a higher density, more tonnage as well as yield they can hold their own and mature faster.