Turkeys: Nature’s Resourceful Omnivores
When it comes to turkeys and their insatiable appetites, their diet is as varied as their habitat. In the spring and summer months, these clever birds have no trouble finding an abundance of insects, berries, and plants to satisfy their hunger. However, as autumn approaches, their reliable food sources become scarce. Insects dwindle, berries disappear, and preferred seeds are long gone. Turkeys must adapt and search for alternative food options to survive the upcoming winter.
Creating the Perfect Food Source for Turkeys: Your Key to Winter Plenty
While acorns and other hard mast can sustain turkeys, their availability is unpredictable, especially during drought years. This is why having a dedicated food source for your turkeys is invaluable. By carefully planning and establishing a food plot specifically tailored for turkeys, you can ensure a consistent and dependable food supply during critical times of the year, ultimately keeping your feathered friends close to home.
Selecting the Ideal Game Bird Food Plot Seed Species
When choosing the right seed species for your turkey food plot, consider sorghums, millets, and sunflowers. These crops all require the same planting depth, making the process simple and straightforward. To prepare the soil, you can use a no-till drill or traditional planting methods. If you choose the latter, start by eliminating existing vegetation with a non-selective herbicide. Then till the soil and create a compact seed bed. You can broadcast the seed and drag it in with a chain harrow or cultipack for optimal germination. Plant the seeds at a depth of about 1 inch to ensure their successful growth. Remember, any seeds left on the soil’s surface become easy targets for birds and insects.
Cultivating Growth: The Ideal Conditions for Your Turkey’s Banquet
For optimal growth and seed production, aim for a soil pH of 6.2-7.0. However, millets, sorghums, and sunflowers can tolerate somewhat acidic soil conditions, so you can still establish a thriving turkey food plot even in less-than-ideal areas. Applying around 300 lbs of 13-13-13 per acre, or an equivalent fertilizer, will provide the necessary nutrients for your crops. These seed-producing plants also thrive on nitrogen. To enhance growth and seed production, consider a secondary nitrogen application 4-6 weeks after germination. You can easily find nitrogen-only fertilizers, such as 34-0-0 or 46-0-0, at most agricultural suppliers.
The Chufa Marvel: A Hotspot for Turkeys and Waterfowl
Another popular planting option for turkeys and waterfowl is chufa. Proper timing is crucial for a successful chufa planting. Make sure to sow it during late spring or early summer, allowing for a minimum of 90 days of growth before the frost arrives. This gives the chufa sufficient time to establish itself, develop a root structure, and produce the irresistible tubers that turkeys adore. Managing weeds in chufa is relatively easy, thanks to its classification in the “nutsedge” family. Grass-specific or broadleaf herbicides can effectively control invasive grasses, ensuring your chufa thrives. As the chufa matures in early fall, it becomes a continuous source of food, sustaining turkeys throughout the winter and offering a potential spring delicacy after the soil thaws in colder northern zones.
Beyond Turkeys: Fostering a Rich Wildlife Habitat
Creating dedicated planting areas for various bird species, including doves, ducks, and pheasants, offers benefits beyond hunting opportunities. These targeted plantings can be used as strips or transitional zones adjacent to deer food plots, promoting a diverse ecosystem. The gradual transition from timber to seed-producing grasses and lower-growing greenery creates an inviting habitat for beneficial insects, small mammals, songbirds, and larger game, such as whitetails and turkeys.
Discover Biologic’s Game Bird Food Plot Seed Blends
One exceptional food plot seed blend for game birds is Biologic’s WhistleBack. This warm-season mix consists of sorghum, three varieties of millets, and sunflowers. Designed to yield substantial seed production while providing ample cover for upland birds, WhistleBack caters to a range of species, from quail and doves to pheasants and turkeys. By dedicating a portion of your deer plot to WhistleBack or similar seed-producing plants, you’ll not only support your game bird population but also create an attractive bedding area for deer or a buffer zone between woodland and food plots.
In conclusion, nurturing your turkey population through strategic food plot seed planting can make all the difference in maintaining healthy bird numbers and satisfying their appetites year-round. By emphasizing diversity and careful planning, you’ll create a thriving ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. So why not treat your turkeys to a delightful feast and reap the rewards of a vibrant and abundant habitat? Happy planting!
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