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Fall planting

Farming for Big Game and Game Birds

Fall planting

Postby Gino Bruno » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:51 pm

what are your thoughts on fall planting of legumes such as alfalfa and clovers? i know that both need a minimum soil temp of 46 degrees so temps should not be a problem right now. having said that, how much time after germination do either need prior to the first frosts? for instance, i know that alfalfa needs 5 trifoliate leaves to be strong enough to make it through winter dormancy but on average how long does that take if conditions are optimal? (conditions are not optimal where i live..... we don't get a ton of moisture).

also, how do weed fair against the competition for the crop if planted in the fall vs. spring? i know that i had a hell of a bad "common bugloss" problem when i planted my alfalfa stand this spring. since broadleaf weeds don't fair as well in the fall as legumes, i'd imagine that they wouldn't be quite as bad if planted in the fall since the alfalfa or clover would have an established root structure before the new weed seeds could even germinate. is this right?
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Re: Fall planting

Postby BK in TEXAS » Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:02 pm

Hey where did this forum come from :D

I don't know how long it takes Gino, but I can go down and ask the neighbor (farmer) if you don't get any concrete answers...just lemme know.
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Re: Fall planting

Postby Gino Bruno » Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:08 pm

i've got several farmers that i know well and all 3 of them have different thoughts. :lol: just wondering if anyone that plants for hunting purposes have played any with fall planting...... i may end up hitting you up for your neighbor's input though. :mrgreen:

as far as the forum goes, i figured now that just about every forum has their version of "the bowyer's gallery," we could set another trend. :roll: :lol: actually, this might be helpful to alot of people..... from guys that have ground and equipment to work with, to guys that are only able to establish mineral licks...... might be a lot of helpful info in the near future. ;)

actually, i hadn't even talked to FD about starting this forum yet and just send him, PA and TC an email on their thoughts. i figured if i didn't get much response within a few weeks, we could nuke it.


i need to PM Leo (schmaus)..... that dude does this stuff for a living.
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Re: Fall planting

Postby Stykshooter » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:18 am

We have planted five acre patches of annual rye as late as the first of October and had to run the deer out of the fields three weeks later.

The farmer who owns the farm we planted all of the food plots on is 84 now and knows his stuff. WE always worked our tails off to get the clover and alfalfa in the ground by the end of March. It had to get up big enough in order to survive the summer drought and then have enough root structure established to survive the freeze in the winter.

Year before last we planted a huge field of brasica in September. Waited until the corn had been cut and then plowed it under and planted the brasica. That stuff grows like crazy but deer won't touch it until it gets several frosts on it so it worked out that they were big enough by the end of October. Then it is like deer ice cream, around here anyway.
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Re: Fall planting

Postby schmaus » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:46 pm

Alfalfa: Don't worry about whats on top of the ground when considering winter survival.....its the root system and what the plant has had time to store in the root system that gives it the goods to get through winter. In your country Gino, August planting will be fine as long as it gets some water. Sept is too late. August is a great month for us to establish alfalfa. The heat actually helps I think. But, we can irrigate the crap out of if. I suppose you don't have a pivot over your food plot.

Clover is pretty much the same deal, except it takes a little longer to get a deep root system.

That said, these two plants have had the living crap bred out of them and there is a specific variety for every need. Make absolutely sure you are buying seed for the north country and not that stuff food plot companies commonly bag and sell for folks in Georgia. Lots of alfalfa bred and produced in places like AZ too. It will live here, but has a short life span.


Something folks who do the food plot thing don't think enough about is weed control. You need to get your crop in during times it can get ahead of the weeds and then the grower should absolutely plan on some form of weed control. With the mixes of different types of stuff growing together in these plots, spraying is pretty difficult. That leaves mowing until you can get the desirable ahead of the undesireable.

My choice instead of clover or alfalfa would be REMONT ROUNDUP TOLERANT SANFOIN. Deer crack. Legume like clover or alfalfa. Roundup ready so spray it and keep it clean. No bloat. Perenial. Done Deal.
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Re: Fall planting

Postby Gino Bruno » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:13 am

Leo- glad you got the PM..... i figured you would be one of the go-to guys on this stuff.

i really don't plan on planting any "mixed" crops........ if alfalfa, it will be an alfalfa stand (partly so i can cut and bale it for both winter feeding and for the neighbor's horses) and if it is clover, it will be all clover ect. so are there any herbicides that you can think of that will knock the hell out of common bugloss in alfalfa stands? all i did this first year was mow because i couldn't find anything that would take care of the stuff and not destroy the alfalfa.

as far as the sanfoid goes, how well does it do in this sandy arid soil that we have out here? i have the PH sitting right around the 6.5 mark but water is our biggest issue during the summer. having said that, it has been raining to beat hell for the last 48 hours..... more than i can ever remember in september. we also have a creek that runs through our place that i have rights too and it runs even during the hottest months. our pond is also spring fed and water continuously flows from it during the hot months as well. the previous owner had a pump installed to draw from the dam in the creek but never once used it..... that will be my spring project. :D
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Re: Fall planting

Postby schmaus » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:10 pm

"Sainfoin is a perennial legume with pea-like flowers that range from pink to purple and bloom throughout the summer. Elk, deer, sheep and cattle prefer ainfoin and will graze it readily over other forage types. Sainfoin can be used for hay and pasture and has an excellent recovery after cutting or pasturing. This legume is nonbloating and is extremely winter hardy."

Gino: I answered on this thread before I read some of your others. If you have the water and they are going to be permanent plots - mini hay fields, I would sure have irrigation in mind, even if I couldn't do it right away. Try and lay them out with a grade and set up so a couple sticks of gated pipe across the high side would flood the balance. Use your pond, pump and some mainline to fill the gated.

I don't think you can get roundup ready alfalfa yet, but it appears the USDA will have its revised impact statement out on it again before long. I would anticipate it will again be legalized, but I might be wrong - can't remember how the last court hearing went. They might have killed it too. However, if you were to establish something round up ready like Remont Sanfoin, you could also leave a lower 1/2 to a plot for an annual like roundup ready corn. Seems to me deer like standing corn in the last part of Nov early Dec....if the coons haven't gotten it all by then. Lots of options.

I think one main consideration is trying to grow something that performs off season from everything else. If you have the only fresh, greening crop when everything else is maturing and burning down, you will get the deer. Idaho fescue and bozoisky wild rye are both Idaho / WA proven perenial grasses that just start to really kick in during the heat of Aug and rock through Sept/Oct. If a guy is going to the trouble, I'd be pretty tempted to try something like that.

Joe Lasch has some plots on his farm in WI. One thing he did was plant some strips of that switch grass. Terrible tall, thick, nasty stuff. However its real good cover for fawning etc. Joe aint no dummy either. He planted these strips with the prevailing wind in mind and laid them out to give him cover for sneaking into certain stands. Its pretty cool when you see it. Hellicious bird habitat too. Use a strip of that around your alfalfa and the deer won't be able to see out much. Leave an entry & exit hole in the strip close to where you are gonna hang your stand....
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Re: Fall planting

Postby schmaus » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:19 pm

From Montana Seeds.com

What is Remont Sainfoin?
Remont Sainfoin is a perennial, no-bloat legume, with a hollow stem and high sugar content
preferred by all classes of livestock (Webster's Dictionary). Remont Sainfoin is a variety
developed by Montana State University.

What is Rocky Mountain Remont?
Rocky Mountain Remont (RMR) is a natural selection regrowth variety of Remont Sainfoin. RMR's
primary advantages are based on longevity and frost tolerance.

How did you develop RMR?
Over 20 years ago we broke out a 500 acre area of very poor producing sod near Browning,
Montana. The area has a short growing season and poor rocky soil. Over time,only the hardiest
and most frost resistant plants have reproduced and gone to seed. We, at Montana Seeds have
been over 45 years and the field testing has shown remarkable gins over alfalfa in alost every fild
condition.

What advantage does RMR have over alfalfa?
RMR is non-bloating, thrives at higher elevations, is more palatable to cows, high RFV's (near 200)
bud through bloom. It never needs fertilizer, and pests such as weevils, aphids, cheat grass and
other weeds are easily and cheaply managed.
During harvest there is no crimping or conditioning, allowing swathing like grain.
Also, calves will eat the hollow stems of sainfoin while rejecting alfalfa stems.

What are the long term forage yield comparisons?
In a worst-case harsh non irrigated environment such as the Browning field:
native sod = .25 ton/acre
alfalfa = 1.5 ton/acre
RMR = 3 ton/acre

In the lush irrigated (over a 4 year average) fields by Bozeman, Montana:
alfalfa = 4.75 ton/acre
sainfoin = 5.22 ton/acre
other non-bloating legumes = 2.5 tons/acre

What is the total cost of developing a field?
At the Browning site over a 20 year period, $50 per acre, depreciated at 7% interest is $3/acre,
spray and spraying $5/acre / 3 ton, is total cost $2.66/ton of no-bloat high quality forage.

What about fertilizer?
none needed.

How do you keep the fields clean of cheat grass and other weeds?
We simply spray an annual application of 5-6 ounces of glysophate costing $1/acre of chemical.

What are you developing now?
We developing the best practices for seeding right into native sod with out breaking the soil with
no-till strategies. We are excited with last year's results and are happy to share this new
development to save even more money.
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Re: Fall planting

Postby Gino Bruno » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:34 am

CHA CHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thanks, Leo!!!!!!
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Re: Fall planting

Postby Gino Bruno » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:49 am

the beauty of that small bernet is that it is an evergreen forb and will grow all winter long provided that temps don't go below -10. right now, it is the only thing green around here for miles. the deer really didn't pay much attention to it when the alfalfa was lush, but now they are destroying it. good thing this year is, we have 350 acres that directly surround our place that layed fallow all summer. it will be winter wheat here very shortly. :D gives me time to plan accordingly for next late season and what i need to get planted on our place to keep the critters here all year long. i really only have our 24 acres to work with, but the gal that owns the 640 surrounding us said she was completely ok with me planting anything i want in the meadows. there is another 4200 acres of prime bedding area directly on the south end of the 640 that only cote and i have access to...... with Tim farming the fields and our little place having the dedicated food plots, i am hoping i can hold and grow some good deer. i am definately learning though.

one thing is for sure, if i had the ability and financial resources to buy enough ground, i could see myself enjoying the hell out of farming full time. hard to explain but i get a real sense of satisfaction out of all the work and seeing the fruits of your labor.
Gun Control - A theory espoused by some monumentally stupid people; who claim to believe, against all logic and common sense, that a violent predator who ignores the laws prohibiting them from robbing, raping, kidnapping, torturing and killing their fellow human beings will obey a law telling them that they cannot own a gun.
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