Plotting For Bucks - Round-Up Time By Wade Nolan - Bowhunting Biologist
Jun 14, 2010 - 6:09:21 AM
There are a number of reasons why food plots fail; low Ph, wrong planting time, poor seed bed prep, no seed soil contact, lack of water and competition with native weeds. This last one is the one that often sneaks in like a thief and steals the day. Did you ever hear this line…" Some seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.". This is not a new problem. Understanding the simple solution may release your food plot to produce more high quality forage than you expected. The solution is called glyphosate but you know it as Round-Up. The main active ingredient of roundup is the isopropylamine salt of glyphosate. (On the web at Frigid
Glyphosate is available under the traditional brand of Round-Up or now since their patent ran out under names such as Cornerstone and Rodeo. Same product different packaging...it's the generic.
The Monsanto Company stirred up this broad spectrum herbicide back in the early 70's. There are a few aspects of Round-Up that have made it a unique and a cost effective answer to a universal problem. Glyphosphate-based herbicides all work on the same biochemical principle -- they inhibit a specific enzyme that plants need in order to grow. The specific enzyme is called EPSP synthase. Without that enzyme, plants are unable to produce proteins essential to growth, so they yellow and die over the course of several days or weeks. A majority of plants use this same EPSP enzyme, so almost all plants succumb to Round-Up.
So in short, Glyphosate kills plants like antibiotics kill bacteria by basically gumming up enzymes that they need to make essential proteins. Because Round-Up specifically attacks the plants ability to make food the result is sort of a surgical assassination that doesn't leave poisonous residue in the soil. Also rather than target a specific class of weeds it kills virtually every plant that it touches. We call that "Broad Spectrum". In short it is a wonderful tool. Be sure to read the warning label because it can be toxic to food plotters.
If we were to examine a square foot of unbroken sod that you were turning into a food plot at first glance we would find a variety of well established weeds, most standing tall. Some will be Annuals. Annuals sprout, live flower and die in a season. Some weeds are Perennials. These plants live for more than one season and may reproduce by rhizomes or seeds. These may consist of grasses, sedges and a variety of broad leaf weeds. Some you would recognize as chick weed or maybe golden rod. The real issue that you have to address is deeper than the first glance.
These weeds have an amazing ability to reproduce themselves through seeds or horizontal roots or rhizomes. Some individual weeds produce thousands of viable seeds every year. While some like milk weed utilize colorful airborne seeds that are dispersed by the wind like fairy dust most simply drop seeds to the ground beneath the plant. Once weed seeds are mature and drop to the ground they are amazingly tenacious when it comes to waiting for the right conditions to sprout. Some will still be able to sprout 3-5 years later.
Weeds have the ability to take over your food plot. They are native and thrive under rotten conditions. Their ability to produce viable seed is legendary. Unaddressed they will dominate your plot.
Now let's imagine that there are 6 types of weeds established in this "one square foot seed bank". So let's do the seed math. Let's say one weed produces 500 viable seeds in a year and 2500 over a five year span. Do you see that it is easy to lose the food plot exercise to weeds? We are confronting up to 15,000 weed seeds and if just six survive to sprout in that one square foot you are right back where you began with a field of weeds. In addition realize that some weed seeds don't even sprout until mid or late summer. Not all weeds are spring sprouters.
Here is where Round-Up comes in. If you spray a weed field with Round-up in late spring you can kill all of the growing weeds then brush hog the weeds.
Then if you hit again in late July or early August with a second shot of Round-up you can effectively kill all of the emerged broadleaf weeds that sprout and grow best in the fall. Now you have a plan to win the seed battle. Disking up the field and planting either an annual like Big and Beasty Brassicas or an annual/biennial blend like Autumn Quick Plot will allow the food plot seeds to grow without competition and you'll have a productive and vibrant food plot.
Some food plots are successful with no or limited weed control but only for fall plantings after most of the weed seeds have germinated. the weeds will be back next spring.
Tom and Tony Sayre prepare to put seed into the ground. Both Tom and Tony have taken mega bucks adjacent to Frigid Forage food plots.
This is what a plot of Frigid Forage Big and Beasty Brassicas looks like after a fall planting. If you live where it snows then Frigid Forage is going to be the most productive seed you can put in the ground. It's specifically designed seed for we northerners.
Weeds are a real problem if you address them head-on with Round-Up. Once you win that battle then you can put some quality Frigid Forage seed in your food plot. Why Frigid Forage seed? Because it is specifically designed to thrive in cold weather...up where the big bucks live.