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Clover and Wildlife

Clover is a high protein legume that benefits the animals that feed upon it and contributes nitrogen to the soil. In today’s markets seed companies all claim to have the best variety. What do you think? We all heard or read about the white and red clovers, crimson clovers, the white tail clovers, high protein clovers as well as the 38 percent protein clovers. Every seed company claims that theirs is the best, but only a few tell you in what regions that their clover is the best.

The trick is the region in which these clovers are planted. Whether cool climates or warm climates some will do very well in the south in wet sandy areas, and some will do well in the north in wet and sandy areas as long as there is enough sun light to allow the photosynthesis process to work. No matter what people claim, the solution is to plant a variety that is suitable for your region, take the time to correct ph levels to those suitable for the seed that is planted, adequate soil preparation, and of course proper fertilization. Soil preparation along with a good solid fertilizer program and adequate moisture will certainly help produce suitable yields.

When you plant clover always use the recommended inoculants for that particular variety. When planting clover or any other type of wild life planting, in addition to fertilizer, I prefer to use Bio Stimulants like RACKMAX because it is so cost effective. Bio stimulants are plant growth hormones that enable a plant to manufacture natural sugar giving a plant more early season vigor, better stands, faster germination, and more leaf area sooner. You get much sweeter plants by increasing the starch and sugar production, making a plant resistant to freeze, drought, overgrazing, and erosion. Bio stimulants increase the root system up to 300% and have a positive impact on plant health.

Most of us know a clover seed is very small and does not produce a very large root system. Whenever you can help a plant increase the way that it absorbs moisture and nutrients, that alone will help the survival rate of the plant. One word of caution when using a Bio Stimulant on clover. Make certain you plant enough or the deer will decimate it!

The inoculants for the type of clover that you purchase can be purchased separately. If you have a seed that has been pre-inoculated, it will not hurt to add additional inoculants. This will insure that all of the seed has a good dose of inoculants on them.

When planting clover try to plant on a good seedbed Use a culti-packer if you have one. If you don’t you should prepare the ground a week before planting, and try to get the ground level to avoid small shaded areas in the field. Advance preparation will allow the dirt to settle and tighten up a bit.

Since clover seed is so small, a seeding rate of 12 to 20 pounds to the acre makes it difficult for birds to do much damage. Scatter the seed and let the rain bury it or you can drag it in with a section of chain link fence. The ideal depth is about ¼ to ½ inches this will allow sun light to penetrate for germination.

If you have a seed drill learning how to use it will result in an even stand, however a small seeder like the cyclone seeder will do very well. Only a few hunters know that planting clover seed to deep results in poor stands. Avoid disking clover seed in 5 or 6 inches deep because it results in poor emergence.

Always try and use the recommended amount of seed to eliminate competition. Too many seeds will not allow a plant reach its potential making the process expensive. Not enough seed, on the other hand will make it easy for weeds to take over your food plot.

Use herbicides in your clover fields when needed to eliminate the grasses that compete with the clover.

Diversity is the key to any successful hunting area. A successful hunting area may contain several types of clover. This will help insure adequate feed for the wildlife at different times of the year. When one variety of clover matures and dies, another will be ready. Here in Alabama I prefer the crimson and Yucci Arrow Leaf varieties. These varieties are beneficial to quail and turkey poults in the spring as well as prime white tail forages in the fall and winter.

Clover is a safe bet on planting for forage crops. One of the really great things about clover is that it makes it own nitrogen. When you plant other crops with clover the clover will help provide nitrogen for other grasses in the area. Nitrogen is essential in the production of wild life forages.

Two overlooked aspect about any clover is the need to refertilize several times during the year. Fertilizing will help to feed the plant for the growth process keeping it succulent. A simple ph test should be done annually and corrections should be made based on the results.

Is the clover that is planted an annual or a perennial? Annuals will need to be planted every year but perennials will reseed itself for several years provided the fields are not grazed to short during the blooming stage.

If you would like some good solid information on clover in your area go to your extension office, or simply call. They will be glad to help. So now you can see some of the benefits of clover. It provides good solid forage for you wildlife. And always remember that our youth need to be involved with our time in the field.

Ed Haas

www.rack-max.com

Submitted by:

Ed Haas

Ed Haas is the owner of the Rackmax company, located in Mobile, Alabama. Mr. Haas has been involved in the field of wildlife nutrition for over 20 years, and actively engages in speaking opportunities at wildlife habitat events around the country.

rack-max@rack-max.com





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