In order to maximize the potential of a prospective food plot, a specific and direct approach should be followed.
- The most important characteristic of food plots is location. Food plots should be placed in remote but accessible locations on the property surrounded by a significant amount of cover for wildlife. Existing canopy gaps and open areas should be selected if possible to minimize labor costs while preparing the site. Food plots often exhibit the highest productivity potential in upland areas.
- To further guarantee the success of the food plot, a soil test is highly recommended. This will allow us to better determine which species that the site will be suitable for, and if fertilizer will be a necessary additive for rapid plant growth.
- The site will likely need to be sprayed with herbicide to remove all existing vegetation which will inhibit desired species growth and germination.
- Once the existing vegetation dies, the site will need to be disked to disturb the soil surface and expose bare mineral soil and seeded. Seeding density is variable depending on the planted species.
- After the seed has been spread, the plot should be rolled with a cultipacker to ensure proper seed contact with the soil. This is another measure that will better guarantee maximum germination, growth, and food plot production.
- Once the food plot matures it will require regular maintenance. Such maintenance often includes minor maintenance such as annual mowing, but could be as intense as annual re-planting. The intensity of maintenance activities depends largely on the planted species.
With proper site preparation and regular maintenance, food plots will be usable for many years to come. Establishing a food plot on your property will create a location where game species will congregate, and can be tailored specifically to attract your desired game species.
Tree & Shrub Planting
Green Timber Consulting Foresters has experience working with landowners to plant various tree and shrub species to bolster the habitat value for wildlife that may be found on their property. Green Timber consulting foresters does not typically plant these species as a company, but is capable of facilitating these plantings especially when they are paired with timber harvest. The planted species vary, depending on the desires of the landowner, the wildlife that they would like to manage for, and soil characteristics outlined above. In addition to species that are planted primarily to benefit wildlife, Green Timber is also capable of facilitating plantations with the primary objective of producing timber products. These plantings have previously consisted of stand re-initiation, stand conversions, and improving regeneration in stands with low densities of natural regeneration. Previously planted species include:
Species for Wildlife Habitat
- Highbush cranberry
- Beaked hazel
- Various species of oak
Species for Timber Production
- Northern red oak
- Red pine
- Jack pine
- Eastern hemlock
Feasible species that can be established on a specific property will be largely dependent on the available site conditions. For example, a landowner with the desire of establishing mast-producing species on their property with well-drained nutrient-poor sandy ridges may be limited to planting various oak species, and incapable of establishing highbush cranberry. Conversely, a property dominated by lowland soil types likely won’t be capable of producing a successful red pine, oak, or jack pine plantation. An additional consideration for suitable planted species is the current light abundance on the property of pre-planting conditions due to timber harvest or lack thereof. A site with high light abundance will be more suitable for shrubs. If you are unsure which species or mix of species would be best-suited to your property, Green Timber is capable of providing a recommendation after a site visit of the property and conversations with you.
An additional consideration for the viability of a plantation at a given site is the current abundance of white-tailed deer in the surrounding landscape. Properties located within or in close proximity to a deer wintering complex, or deer yard, may see intense browse of planted species during the winter months. If a proposed plantation is considered to be high-risk due to the abundance of deer, additional measures may need to be taken to mitigate excessive deer browse. Deer browse is usually the greatest threat to seedlings, and becomes less of a concern as the tree matures. For this reason, browse mitigation should focus on the five to ten-year window following the establishment of the plantation. A common method for mitigating deer browse is the use of tree shelter tubes, or grow tubes. These tubes are usually made of plastic and act as a protective sheath around the tree until it becomes large enough to be resilient to deer browse.
Planting the tree and shrub species listed above usually requires some sort of site preparation such as: anchor chaining, trenching, salmon blading, or roller chopping as well as creating areas with abundant sunlight by removing most of the dominant canopy. Since these forms of site preparation require heavy machinery, and are otherwise expensive, it is best that they are paired with timber harvest whenever possible to minimize the out-of-pocket cost to the landowner. To further reduce costs, additional funding may be available from conservation programs such as The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and through habitat grants from The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).