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Habitat Forum Discuss pheasant hunting habitat, land, farming, legislation, crp or conservation issues.

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Old 08-26-2011, 09:50 AM
Freeborn Freeborn is offline
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Default Best Flowers for Pheasant and best seed rate.

Hi Group,

New poster hear. I'm located in west central Minnesota and am working on my plans for planting 10 acres of CRP in 2012. In 2011 I planted 40 acres of nesting cover and for 2012 I want to focus on a shorter mix of grass and forbes for brooding reasons.

My property is a mix of ag, Bur Oak with some cattail area with aspen. My soil is a sandy loam. The general area is 75% crops and 25% woods.

I have several questions:

What forbes are the best for pheasants?
Are there specific forbes that are best for certain times of the year?
What grasses are best for Pheasant broods?
When you look at seed rates I have heard for brooding you want 50% forbes so they are not taken over by the grasses. Whenever I see grasses they are sold by the pound while forbes are sold by the oz, is there a conversion to get a 50/50 mix?

Thanks for all the help!

Last edited by Freeborn; 08-26-2011 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:30 PM
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Prairie Drifter Prairie Drifter is offline
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Forbs are a bit tough to recommend out of my area as adaptability changes quite a bit across the pheasant range. Some used here frequently are: Maximillian Sunflower, Liatris (Gayfeather), Illinois Bundleflower, alfalfa, Yellow Sweetclover, Purple Prairie Clover and Ashy-leaf Sunflower. Natural occuring "weed" species that may not be found as a commercial seed but are beneficial to pheasants might include Kochia and Pigweed. Pheasants are more crop oriented for adult food sources than are quail so crops will figure into their fall and winter diet more.

As for grasses, clump grasses are the best with Little Bluestem often being the preferred varieyt across much of the pheasant range. I've had good luck with Side-oats Gramma for a shorter variety as well. Big Bluestem and Switch grass are much taller and more sod-forming in their growth form, so I would make them more minor component in the seed mix.

You asked about forbs for times of the year. Yes, forbs are significant contributors to brood survival. Many in the ag community won't recommend clovers as a part of the forb mix. It competes with the grass and can be a problem if the CRP is used for cattle feed later. However, yellow and white sweetclover produce huge numbers of insects during the time frame that broods need them and can significantly add to brood survival. If you check with your local extension or NRCS, you can choose a forb portfolio that will provide good insect production throughout the nesting/brooding season.

From your description of the local habitat landscape, adding nesting and brood-rearing habitat should significantly improve your ability to produce and over-winter birds.
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Old 08-26-2011, 09:26 PM
1GB 1GB is offline
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Here's a quick rundown of my answers, though I'm not quite an expert like PD is. I'll try to keep it short to keep from typing too much, but just ask if you want me to expand on anything.
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Originally Posted by Freeborn View Post
What forbes are the best for pheasants?
IMO just do some strip discing and see what comes up naturally. Shoot for variety and you should come out alright. There's really nothing you could plant and forget - periodic disturbance is necessary to maintain suitable habitat.
Quote:
Are there specific forbes that are best for certain times of the year?
Shot for variety as you should get a whole host of forbs that will either provide seed, bugs, or cover throughout most of the year, aside from the larger snowstorms and later part of winter.
Quote:
What grasses are best for Pheasant broods?
Any with an open understory - primarily NWSGs as PD mentioned. With the taller grasses burning or periodic discing can set back the stand and keep it open (keep the thatch from building up too much)
Quote:
When you look at seed rates I have heard for brooding you want 50% forbes so they are not taken over by the grasses. Whenever I see grasses they are sold by the pound while forbes are sold by the oz, is there a conversion to get a 50/50 mix?
IMO, don't overseed the grasses to heavily. Also don't go nuts with the herbicides unless 1-2 particular weeds are trying to overtake the stand. Afterwords fire/discing can be used to help keep a balance.
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:50 AM
Freeborn Freeborn is offline
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Thank you for the replys, I appreciate the info. I just got back from a long weekend of work at my place and one of the things I planted was 4 acres of clovers with most of it being sweet clovers.

I am working with my NRCS office and they are very helpful but I always like other peoples opinion as more information is always better.

Thanks again!
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