View Full Version : Native Grass ?
05-10-2005, 10:37 AM
For those of you who have planted or are familiar with native grasses could you give me your pros and cons on the following seeds, the following are going to be on a upland piece of ground that my father owns- big blue, indian grass, little blue, sideoats grama, virginia wildrye, western wheatgrass, and swithgrass. The second planting is going to be on my river bottom ground which can be wet at times Virginia wildrye, switchgrass, canada wildrye, western wheatgrass, red top, and big blue. I have looked at many books and internet sites and these seem like the best combo for our two planting sites. Any comments or suggestions on the above? I'm am new at this native grass stuff and anything you have to say would be helpful.
05-11-2005, 05:02 AM
I'm not an expert but the current issue of QDMA's magazine "Quality Whitetails" has a great article obout this very topic. Another great reason to join! I would consider getting ahold of your local nrcs office for help with this. A quote from the article states "for a thick stand tailored more toward thermal habitat and escape cover for deer, I would recommend a mixture of 3# Switchgrass, 1 1/2# each of Indiangrass and Big Bluestem, and 1/2# of Canada Wild Rye per acre." The article details preparing the seedbed over a year before planting, and matinence through out it's life.
05-11-2005, 06:43 AM
I bought a farm that had established switchgrass CRP. Since I didn't plant it or select the variety, I can't help you there. What advice I can lend is that spring burns are a prescribed method of management. You might want to keep that in mind for placement purposes (not planting right up against timber or other areas you might not want to accidently burn). I would mow fire breaks around the fields and use a hay rake to move the litter towards the switch to burn it. Always start on the down wind side (on as calm a day as you can select) for a back burn. Burning off switchgrass fields is not for the timid and hopefully you can get some friends to help out. I think a coworker has a picture on his computer of one of our burns. I'll see if I can post it as it is pretty impressive. As my avatar shows, switch can be good cover http://www.iowawhitetail.com/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
05-11-2005, 08:50 AM
Thanks for the info guys. Central I just joined the magazine thanks for the tip I can't wait to get the first one. JNBRONC, Burning is the one thing that I'm familiar with my dads is currently in CRP and we burn it every 2-3 years. And being on the fire dept. I will be sure to have good fire lanes, the last thing I want to have to do is call them I would get so much crap http://www.iowawhitetail.com/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
I'm by no means a expert but I would stay away from the switch. If you do use it use very little it is very invasive. I know a guy that had ounces per acre of switch in his mix and many other grasses and forbs and all you see is the switch. I think all the other grasses would do fine. Also look into forbs there are many forbs deer like a couple are showy tick trefoil, and bush clover.
05-20-2005, 07:34 AM
I can just seed the forbs in with the grass seed at planting time can't I?
Yes you can but some of them wont germinate until the next year so dont expect to see a bunch of flowers right away. Also try to burn every other year that will help the forbs out. For more good info check out Prairie Moons website, they also have a very informative website.
05-26-2005, 09:12 PM
Just a side note....
My family has planted many different native grass plots (buffer strips, CRP, savanna projects, ect.) in years past on our farms and has become something we really enjoy. Try to use a local ecotype of switchgrass. The non-local stuff can get invasive and squeeze out all of the other grasses you mentioned. The best plots have diversity, and you don't want an invasive switch to snuff that out for you. We hardly plant any switch at all anymore. Not saying that it isn't useful in some situations (which it is and can be) but we prefer big blue, little blue and Indian grass with mixed forbs.
Remember....that stand will look like a bunch of weeds for a while. Proper management techniques are essential. Mow, mow, mow and more mowing are needed in that first critical year or so. Burning and other weed control will be needed. In the long run, you will see an awesome stand of grass and all sorts of animals will benefit.
05-27-2005, 02:43 PM
thanks for the reply GunnerJon, What do you mean by local eco-type and how do I make sure thats what it is. Also what are your mowing procedures. Any info is appreciated.
05-27-2005, 06:16 PM
I guess I should have said "native ecotype" instead of "local". All this means is that it is a type of grass that would normally grow in a prairie setting in the upper midwest or Iowa. The grower of whatever seed you are buying should be able to give you this information.
Mowing is a very essential part of native grass restoration and establishment. I would kill off the site, drill in all the grasses and then stand back for a while. Let all those weeds grow until they are about knee high. Then get in there with whatever kind of mower you have (sickle-bar mowers work best cause they don't wind-row the grass and weeds) but a bush-hog will do the job. Mow the weeds about a foot high or so. Higher or lower really won't hurt things. Several mowings spread throughout the summer are ideal. The whole purpose is to let those weeds come up and cut them off before they go to seed. Now, if you are going to plant just grasses, you can spray 24D on to kill some of the broadleaves, but since you want forbs, just use mowing regiments and burning the next fall. Stop mowing in late July and let those nasty weeds get tall. You can then cook them off with a nice fire the next fall and you should see the grasses start to spring back. I am sure you can find alot of different ways to do things with grass establishment on the net, and I would urge you to look just so you have different ideas to pick from. This is what my family has done for years on many different kinds of plots and it has worked great. Good luck!
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