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By William Cousins Whitetail Institute Director of Operations he Whitetail Institute’s seedbed preparation instructions will help you plant a seedbed that’s “clean,” meaning as free of competing grass and other weeds as you can get it. As the instructions recommend, this can usually be done during seedbed preparation by repeated disking or tilling, the use of Roundup-type glyphosate herbicides, or both. Despite your best efforts, though, weeds can still reappear in even the best-prepared food plots. If you planted in a clean seedbed, it might seem a logical assumption that the weed seed must have come with the seed you planted. If you have already read the article, “Seed Production — A Complex Journey to the Perfect Product” on Page 8, you know that’s not the case. You know that many steps are taken by the Whitetail Institute in the production and cleaning of your seed to prevent the possibility of contamination before it is packaged by the Whitetail Institute. So, if the weed seed did not come in the bag, and you started with a clean seedbed, where did those weeds come from? Weed seed can be introduced into a plot in various ways, such as by being carried


/ Vol. 26, No. 3

into the plot on tillage equipment or by birds and other animals. By far, though, the most common reason is the soil seed bank, which is comprised of viable weed seeds and other vegetative plant parts, such as rhizomes, bulbs or tubers of weedy plants that lie underground and can grow into new weeds. Many references confirm that a square foot of soil can contain thousands of viable weed seeds waiting to germinate. The soil seed bank develops through time, as each year, new seeds are added from weeds that grow and are allowed to go to seed. Rhizomes are underground stems that are usually associated with weedy grass species such as quack grass. Most of us have pulled up grass and seen these thick, white, root-like stems, which lead to another plant we also pulled. Sometimes, it seems to go on and on without end. When we cultivate or disk fields during seedbed preparation, we cut up those rhizomes in the soil, and new weeds develop from them. Bulbs and tubers that occur naturally in the soil are most commonly seen when nut sedge or wild onion pop up in food plots. Believe it or not, the soil seed bank is Mother Nature’s way to ensure a healthy soil. For our purposes, the term weed describes any plant growing where we do not want it to grow. Corn growing in a soybean field, for example, is considered a weed. In nature, there are no weeds. There are only plants that grow to protect the soil, improve the soil, nurture the soil microorganisms and provide food for animals. What we typically call weeds are actually soil-colonizing plants that produce lots of seed, grow quickly in a wide range of environmental conditions and produce seeds that can survive in the soil for years

Whitetail News Volume 26 Issue 3  

Wtn Vol 26.3

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