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Tractor implements for new Food Plot
On my property in Oklahoma I currently have multiple small 0.10 acre to 0.70 acre food plots that total a little less than 3 acres. I planted them by mowing, spraying glyphosate, spreading seed followed by cultipacking. This worked reasonably well despite how dry it was at the end of September and early October. The problem is that even with the huge acorn crop that we had this year the deer keep the food plots mowed to the ground so I know I need to establish more acreage in food plots.
My best location to establish a new 2.5 acre food plot is an upland location that is covered with some sort of bunch grass that is very dense. I don’t think spraying it and bush hogging it will be sufficient to open the ground up to broadcast and cultipack. My question is what implement is best suited for clearing this area for planting, Disc Harrow, tiller, or something else? By the way the soils are sandy with not a lot of rock and I own a Kubota L6060 tractor.
John I live in East Tenn much more rocky here it sounds like but we use a Hvy disk it’s 12ft wide usually two passes and I’m done but also this past year we were pressed for time and drought condition our ground was very hard I rented a 8ft tiller from our local rental place I disked while my buddy ran it and it seemed to be trick I’m currently in search for one on Craigslist.
I’d agree, a tiller would probably work best. Any pics of the grass?
I don't have any pictures of the grass but it is kind of like a tussock, very bumpy to drive a 4 wheeler through. I am planning to go up there tomorrow and I will get some pictures. You can actually see the bumps from the grass in the picture above, look how much smoother the grass is on the right side of the picture across the fence in the cattle pasture.
Renting a tiller may be a good Idea, I am not sure I really would use it that much, what I really want is a no till drill :)
I would reconsider the spray throw n cultipack method if it's working for you. Sandy soil and dry summers need as much organic matter as it can get. Tillage is a great way to destroy the mechanisms that build OM.
It sounds like Lovegrass. You might be best off burning the grass off before tilling. That way you won’t have as much problem breaking up the soil vs trying to incorporate the grass into it. What part of the state? Lots of Lovegrass in western Oklahoma.
If you have a lot of grass and debris, the tiller may get wrapped up, especially if it’s long grass. Disking and letting it lay to decompose a bit might work. The no-till drill would be best if you can get one. They are pretty pricey in my area.
I plan to use the Spray/throw /Pack method for the established plots as you suggest. I was able to use that method on a new plot I established last fall but that location had native grass and smilax so it was relatively easy to get seed to soil contact. This bunch grass is way thicker and I am thinking that I will not get good seed to soil contact, I am not sure how long it will take to decompose.
I am in south central Oklahoma just across the Red river northwest of Dallas/FortWorth
The no till drill would be the way to go but they are very expensive, just hoping to run into a good deal sometime.
You may want to burn then spray then no till,check with your local usda office they may have a no till to rent or maybe a farmer around there would do it
Although I have never burned that would be my suggestion. I will 2nd that a tiller can over work the soil. I like to lightly disk then plant and roll in. Of course get a soil sample before planting.
Like Troy said, sounds like love grass. We used to have lots of it in East Texas, you can barely walk through the stuff. I’ll second the spray, then burn too. If you can get a tiller, you don’t have to till any deeper than necessary to destroy the roots. A disc will do that too. I’d wait 10 days or so after a good gly treatment, that will rot the roots and make for better, easier tilling.
Wouldn't hurt to look around and see how the agriculture practice is in the area and have coffee at the quick stop to visit with the local farmers on recommendation. I had a plot around 600 yards long north of you on the south Canadian and didn't till very deep. Turns up sand with no value
The Ag around me is mostly Cattle, Hay , and Pecans. The cattle farmers plant winter wheat for grazing by discing the fields but they plant late October.
If you DO burn it off, be very cautious. Here in Iowa, burning off CRP is a relatively safe procedure. Not sure what conditions are like in South central Oklahoma, but I have a good rancher buddy in NW Oklahoma that burns his pastures off in the Spring, and things can get out of control in a hurry if not careful.
JB are you in the cross timbers limestone formation range ?
Here is what the grass looks like.
I am a little leery of burning, but early spring it can definitely be done.
I am in the Crosstimber region but I don't think its the limestone region, soils are sandy and acidic ( I am about 20 miles west of Marietta).
That’s definitely Lovegrass, John.
I am thinking that I can kill the love grass with glyphosate, then a couple of weeks later mow it. I don't want to plant until at least mid-September so if I kill the grass in the summer and mow it it may give it enough time to start breaking down. If there is too much ground cover I guess I could disc/till or drag it with drag harrow.
Can you disk a perimeter fire stop? That’s some really thick stuff that you are dealing with.
Bohunter09, I could disk a fire stop and burn it. They just had a control burn get away from them on a WMA not to far from me just this week.
This Love grass is a pain in the back side! I mowed it back in February and then a couple of weeks ago I sprayed it with glyphosate, it looks like I got a good kill except where I missed spraying. I tried to disc a strip on the edge of the plot to plant an Egyptian Wheat screen but after 6 passes it is a no go. I think I am going to have to scrape the grass off on the boundary then disc a buffer and just burn it while everything else is still green.
The good news is my switchgrass looks like it is growing well.
Love grass after spraying
Love grass after spraying
border disc area
border disc area
Burning it now would definitely be a bit safer now that the other stuff has greened up. Burning all the dead lovegrass would go a long way towards being able to get the field disced up as well, although the root clumps will probably still be a pain until you get them completely broken up. It might take several passes.
If you can, try to back burn it into the wind. That seems to burn up the thatch more thoroughly (on our native grass CRP at least) plus you can control things a little better...unless the wind switches :-( Discing up a firebreak around the perimeter will also help.
Definitely going to try to back burn the area. It is supposed to rain every day this week so I hoping to give it a try in a couple of weeks. I think if I can get it burned off soon, by the end of September I should be able to plant with no problems.
I also would like to get the Egyptian Wheat planted as soon as possible because the switch grass won't be much of a barrier this year.
By the way the horns are growing fast already up to the brow tines on some bucks and I am also getting a few pictures of fawns. Fun to watch it happen.
Egyptian wheat will grow very quickly as long as it has plenty of nitrogen. Good luck with your project, and stay safe if you burn it!
You can do whatever you feel is best but I think you are going to be disappointed in the results from just disking your ground. Even after a burn down it is going to be hard to get that ground worked up with a disk no bigger suited than for a 60h.p. tractor. A disk for that size tractor isn't going to be heavy enough or have the gangs at an angle that will cut thru the hard soil.
If it was me I would hire a neighbor that has a tractor and a moldboard plow or buy a good used 3pt. 3 bottom plow for your tractor and plow it first. Then you can disk the ground till it is fine as sugar.
Just my experience from living on a farm that disking with a 50 to 60 horse tractor and a 8 to 12 foot disk just doesn't work on soil that hasn't been plowed first.
The soil is not very hard it is kind of sandy, I planted probably 3/4 of an acre in switchgrass on the outside boundary of the field back in February. I had to scrap all the grass off with my bucket but once I did I was able to disc with no problem. I am going to keep the idea of to hiring a neighbor in mind if I can't get this worked myself.
sandy, few rocks, few stumps= tiller
We definitely don't regret our tiller purchase.
A regular disc and a sprayer is best. Tillers don't like any rocks. I would say you need a culitpacker since nobody mentioned it. It is great for getting seeds to the correct depth. For clover I disc, cultipack then sow the seed. For big seed like soybeans I disc, sow seed then cultipack. I used my cultipacker on my chicory stand this year and it's the best I've ever planted.
I decided to give burning a try as you can see the whole field is burned off plus a bonus 1/2 acre. I found out that green love grass burns like an S*B.
It looks like some useful information
John, How about a one year update on this project?
Jake, I’m gonna bet JM ain’t gonna be in love with love grass ! :-) The only purpose I’ve ever seen for it is to hold quail when I was a kid. We have no quail now and no love grass either. I think it originally was recommended in East Texas (where I’m from) to prevent erosion. I expect those root balls were still a pain to disc up.
I can get some pictures when I am up at the Farm this weekend.
Last year I planted an Egyptian Wheat screen and it got about 3 feet tall and it quit raining; by September that was all the taller it had gotten. I decided not to plant it as a food plot because I needed access around the Plot.
This year my switchgrass is starting to come on so I decided try to get something growling this spring. I disked the field, cultipacked, spread Durana clover and Chicory and then cultipacked again. Nothing was growing as of last weekend but we have had colder than normal temps. Soil temps were 50-55 degrees and they have just jumped to 64 so I expect maybe it will start growing this week.
Here are some pictures from this weekend, Things are growing slow.
You are somewhere close to me... I'm about 12 miles west of Marietta, East of the Cross Timbers WMA.
I've had pretty good luck with a Durana/Chicory mix, but it seems to do better when planted in the fall with a cereal grain nurse crop (wheat or cereal rye). The clover will mostly be growing a root system in the fall and winter and then come on better in the spring than if planted in the spring. Also, my clover plots are in bottomland.. not sure how it will do in the upland sandy soil... may burn up in the heat.
Looking at your most recent pics... you might consider broadcasting some buckwheat on that plot followed by a drag, just to get something growing for the summer, and then try the clover/chicory/grain mix in the fall.
We are not very far apart I am on the west side of Cross Timbers. I haven't been able to get to the farm in a couple of weeks so I don't know if anything is growing. If the plot doesn't look good this weekend then I will take you advice and plant some buckwheat.
Here's an update on the food plot from this weekend, as you can see things are stating to grow but there is some yellowing so I fertilized the plot with 16-16-16.