without germinating, waiting for the right conditions to germinate and grow. The right conditions for those colonizing plants usually follow some event that disrupts the soil. Those include natural disasters such as a tornado, fire, flood or earthquake that destroy plant life or disrupt the soil. A tree being uprooted during a windstorm also creates exposed soil that will quickly have plants that begin developing from seed in the soil seed bank. Unfortunately, disking or tilling the soil, which is necessary to prepare a good seedbed for most food plot plantings, also disturbs the soil and can create ideal growing conditions for weeds. From Mother Nature’s viewpoint, creating a food plot, or any kind of agriculture activity, is basically a natural disaster because it disturbs and exposes the soil. Immediately, the soil seed bank is put to use, and weeds begin to grow from dormant seeds and other components. Weeds, of course, compete with food plot plants for nutrients, moisture and light, so we need to do our best to control actively growing weeds and to try to reduce our soil seed bank through time. There are several ways to do so. If you’ll be planting in fallow ground or another area with abundant grass or weeds, plan out your seedbed preparation so you can till the soil several times at two-week intervals during seedbed preparation. When you disk or till, you’ll bring some of the dormant weed seed in the soil seed bank to the surface, where it can sprout and grow. Then, by tilling or disking again two weeks later, you’ll kill those new weeds before they have time to develop viable seeds of their own. Incorporating a glyphosate herbicide into your seedbed preparation before you plant can also help reduce competition from grass and
weeds. If you have a fairly heavy soil seed bank, you might consider trying to finish your tillage a few weeks early, allowing grass or weeds that sprout from seeds you’ve brought to the surface to germinate and start to grow (generally a week or two) and then spraying glyphosate. The key is to not disk, till or otherwise turn the soil again after you spray. That way, you won’t bring more weed seed from the soil seed bank to the surface. Third, if you’ll be planting a Whitetail Institute perennial seed product, remember that you’ll need to keep weeds under control during the life of the plot. Two tools can help you do so: periodic mowing and, in some cases, herbicides. (Be sure to always follow label directions for any herbicide.) The Whitetail Institute recommends periodic mowing for all its perennials. Specifically, mow your perennial plot any time you see any grass or other weeds starting to flower or put on seed heads. Your goal is not to reduce height as much as it is to remove the seed heads before the seed in them becomes viable. The Whitetail Institute also offers Arrest Max and Slay herbicides to help with grass and weed control in most Whitetail Institute perennial forage stands. Finally, remember that weeds usually appear in areas of a forage stand that are thin or not as thick and healthy as they should be. Accordingly, making sure you address soil pH and fertility as specified in Whitetail Institute’s seedbed preparation and planting instructions helps with weed control and helps ensure that your forage will have an optimum growing environment. In-house consultants are available to assist you with these matters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday thru Friday, ^
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Vol. 26, No. 3 /
WHITETAIL NEWS 41
Wtn Vol 26.3