Who is doing some spring habitat work?

Makintrax73

New member
Last fall was rough on the farm. My farmer mowed most of my CRP without asking so he could spray for thistle. Saw 2 nice coveys opening weekend despite lack of cover on the majority of the property. Then a heavy wet snow hit and smashed what was left _flat_ as a pancake. Never saw another bird.

I've spent three days sweating my but off. Spraying brome, interseeding a bit, and using a small rototiller to plant some NWGs in small areas. Frankly it got to feeling a little like useless effort......until Friday. I was working an area into a NWG experiment patch when I heard Mr. Bobwhite calling and another bird answer back.

Just had to stand there and smile for a minute and listen. Hopefully they're making babies soon!!
 

McFarmer

Member
I destroyed some brome CRP last summer and got some native grass into it with a winter dormant seeding. Starting to see some grass shoots and now we got this snow.

Hopefully it didn’t get too cold.
 

Makintrax73

New member
I destroyed some brome CRP last summer and got some native grass into it with a winter dormant seeding. Starting to see some grass shoots and now we got this snow.

Hopefully it didn’t get too cold.
Yeah I checked the stuff I seeded the prior week. Didn't see any shoots yet, and I hope there weren't any. Our place had a hard frost last night. I knew I was hitting it early but I'm going to be busy the next few weeks and it looked like a lot of rain. Had to take a chance and get it done.
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
I've gotten 8 spring burns done for a total of 525 acres. My goal was over 1200 acres, so I'm not too happy with the total. Never saw a spring where I had to beg for a south wind! I have about 7 summer burns planned. If I get all of those done it will turn out to be a pretty good year. I may add to that total if I burn the timber where I had done an understory cut over. I need the neighbor to work his wheat stubble before I try it. It will burn for weeks so it has had me stymied! Once I get dried out (probably won't be until July) I will work up my waterfowl marshes and get them planted to millet. I tried out both of my new (to me) sneak boats this season and really like hunting from them. I'll try to get a few more days of duck marsh appreciation this fall. I put in for some new equipment in next year's grant. If that comes through, it should sure open the doors for more woody invasive control. I've been hiring a lot of that out, but I'm finding that few of the contractor's help can tell one tree from another!
 

ckirsch

New member
Put on another 275 trees and shrubs on our small western South Dakota place. Trying to focus on food source species; caragana, aronia, buffaloberry, crabapple. Hoping to feed some native sharptails and huns, and prepare for releasing some pheasants in a few years. We have several juniper shelterbelts in to provide cover, and I'm planting plums and other shrubs in corners of fields and other places where they won't get in the way during haying but might provide hangouts for gamebirds and deer.

One tree we are experiencing good luck with is the Harbinger McDermmand Pear. We've planted them in ravines over the past few years, where the soil tends to stay a little more moist, and they've grown 3-4 feet per year. I put a row in a shelterbelt this spring to see how they do in dryer ground. We only get around 18 inches of annual precip so I may be pushing my luck, but I'm told the pears will produce far more fruit than apple trees, and are more disease resistant, so hopefully they'll eventually draw deer in from far and wide. Also have planted apricot, Dolgo crabapple, and Liberty apples so with some luck we'll one day have a fall and early winter smorgasboard for deer. In this country of cactus, yucca, and cheat grass, all that fruit should be hard for local deer to resist. Our sharptails will also have a much more varied diet than they are accustomed to. Very few local pheasants in our area, but we hope to change that once our habitat is better established. Sure having fun working on this.....
 

Makintrax73

New member
You guys are working hard this spring.

Prairie Drifter: Sounds like a lot of acres to me. I experienced my first burn this spring by accident. It was nice and green so I lit a brush pile....burned off a 1/2 acre.

Ckirsch: Interesting about the pears! I never thought about those up north. May need to investigate that for a deer planting in Northern WI, as I've got a small piece of hunting land up there with a little clearing that needs a deer attraction. We get a lot more rain up there though.
 

sdviking

New member
Wow Ckirsch, good job with all the tree planting. I was able to plant 114, ceders, junipers, and golden currants bushs, plus four 7 foot tall pear trees and a few bur oaks. I believe I have two more rows of bushes to plant along a low area and then just replace the trees that are dying in an old established shelterbelt. I hope you have great success with the Plums and Caragana, ours here are doing fantastic. I will have to research the Harbinger McDermmand Pear really like the sound of how they are performing for you. Prairie Drifter, wish i hand your knowledge on how to burn. I have some 5-15 acre native praire that could really use a burn. We are so wet in NE South Dakota that we can't get into the fields to fertilize and plant yet. Food plots might get done first due to them being on ground that is drying out quickest. V/r SDviking
 
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ckirsch

New member
SD - those pear should really fly out of the ground for you given how much more precip you get. They are self-pollinating so you don't have the hassle of finding another disease-resistant species to cross pollinate. Not a great eating pear for humans but the deer apparently have no objections. Another tree I'm optimistic about is the Dolgo crabapple. It's resistant to the four most common apple tree diseases, most notably for me being cedar apple rust as we have so many junipers around. The Dolgo is self-pollinating, and bears 2-inch apples that don't drop until November and December, perfect timing for deer season. NRCS doesn't offer Dolgo so you need to find a nursery somewhere. Chief River in Wisconsin has bare root seedlings for $4-5 each. I put twenty five of those in this spring, hopefully we'll start seeing some apples in 4-5 years.

Which species of plum are you planting? We have some native American Plum and I've put in some Prairie Red Plum closer to the house as they are reportedly much better eating. Not sure if they'll be tough enough to handle the drought and extreme temps we get here but will find out. I put 30 Aronia in as they were rated very hardy and their berries are listed as a favorite food for sharptails. Anyone know if pheasants will feed on them?
 

sdviking

New member
ckirsch, I have planted the same Plums that you are planting,Prairie Red Plum and Native Plum. Both are numerous along fence rows here and the pheasants love em. My plums are planted along a intermittent water way where the ground water level is high. The Plums are thriving there. Deer really haven't bothered them much and a few have been gnawed on by rabbits but have recovered. I am really looking forward to see if the Golden Current succeeds, they are suppose to be 3 to 6 foot tall bush with yellow flowers in the Spring and small fruit in the Fall. I have not tried the buffalo berry or aronia. SDviking
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
I sure hope that good habitat and time can overcome this flooding! 5.68 inches in about 48 hours and the river is crawling all over the place! Glad it was this early, but it still will have some impacts! Not the way to start the nesting season!
 

SDJIM

New member
WET here to

I sure hope that good habitat and time can overcome this flooding! 5.68 inches in about 48 hours and the river is crawling all over the place! Glad it was this early, but it still will have some impacts! Not the way to start the nesting season!
It has been quite a year here with late snow over heavy rain and now rain it seems every other day. Can't get some of my equipment out of the storage shed as you get stuck as soon as you come out the door. Got a new tractor last week (Massy Ferguson 1740M with loader and backhoe ) and don't dare get out of the yard as have been stuck twice in 4 days. Tear up the trails and drive ways so I guess it's park everything and wait for dryer weather, lots of plans on hold right now. :(
 

sdviking

New member
For the Habitat tree guys this spring has been perfect. Super slow warm up and lots of moisture has reduced the amount of shock to new tree plantings. For the farmers trying to plant crops it has been a terrible spring. Corn stubble is not drying out and there are so many wet spots in the field that there will be lots of ground not planted right away this spring. Of the 440 acres we farm we have 7 acres of Oats planted and 45 Acres of New CRP planted, that's it. Was hoping for a little nice weather to help us out but... we recieved almost 2 inches of rain last night and it's drizzling today. Established CRP is really looking good and all the Hay ground looks good. SDViking
 

Prairie Drifter

Active member
I hear you. We had another 6 inch rain that caused the river to flood for the third time since September. More on the way tonight and they are calling for more on Monday as well. Going to be rough on the guys wanting to plant corn and soybeans. Be nice if it would tame down as we ease into nesting season.
 

matto

New member
Talked to one of my tenants this morning and he's just pulled off the cattle that I was letting him graze. I'm trying to prevent the cheat grass from producing seed. He's not sure he had enough cattle on it, but it had to help. Even if some of the cheat grass produced seed, the hoof action will help prevent the grass from getting too thick. All the rain should help the NWSG recover nicely and help to produce bugs... I just hope the hens didn't get killed by the hail.
 

ckirsch

New member
SDViking - thought I'd send a report on a few species that are really doing well for me. I put in some Hansen Hedge Rose and they've really taken off. I know that sharptails love those rose hips and am hoping pheasants will feed on them as well. Put in eighteen caragana to see how they do and I've been surprised at their growth as well. We had an unusually wet May, so I imagine almost anything we planted would have grown well this year, but since our wettest years still fall short of your driest, either of those species should perform well for you. I've read that caragana produce seed pods that provide a good late winter food source for both grouse and pheasants. Anyone have any firsthand knowledge of that? Planned on putting in some crabapple species that were resistant to cedar rust and provided small apples that stayed on the trees into the winter, but they didn't show up with my tree order this spring. All of the fifty Dolgo Crabapple, McDemmand Pear, and Apricot I planted have survived and it looks like I'll get a foot or two of growth out of them this year. Aronia are also doing well - I planted around thirty of them and have only seen a couple that didn't make it.

Ran into a pheasant farmer near Rapid who had fifteen adult roosters she needed to move out as she was releasing this year's chicks into the fly pens. I picked them up for next to nothing, worked my dogs on five or six and released the rest on our small 160 acre place east of Rapid. I went out four days later and came across four of them, and was surprised at how much warier they had become in that short amount of time. We have around 100 acres in alfalfa that will get cut soon - I'll be interested to see how many are still around when we hay. I have no illusions about them surviving long term at this point as our shelterbelts are still probably too immature, but in the meantime they have decent cover, plenty of bugs to eat, and access to water, so it's cool to see a few birds out there. Maybe I'll learn something that helps me get some established in a few years when our habitat is developed a bit more.
 

sdviking

New member
ckirsch, good to hear that weather conditions have helped your new plantings get a good start this Spring. I ended up planting Red Ceders to replace the 12 that I lost last year, then added a row of Rocky Mountain Junipers to one of my tree belts. Then I used some Golden Currents to fill in some bushes that didn't make it. Added four 6 foot pear trees to my fruit grove that is doing well. Then added four additional Bur Oak and 6 three foot tall Blue Spruce to my shelterbelt north of the house to help fill in spots where i have taken down some dead trees due to age. I just picked up 50 elderberry, 50 honeysuckle and 25 bur oaks. So I intend to add another row or two next to a slough that I plant food plots next too. Water table is still high there so I am hoping that even though I am planting these late that they will have a chance to make it. All the bushes and trees that I have planted seem to be doing well. With all the additional spring moisture the native grasses have been a challenge, they really know how to grow next to my tree/bush plantings.
I am raising 200 pheasant chicks this year. They sure are a busy and active group. Like flying tennis balls at this stage. I hope your Caragana's do as well as mine are. And the Native Plum I planted, had a few rabbit issues with them but just when I think the bush is dead, new growth starts taking off. SdViking
 
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