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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last year I bought 80 acres of divided farm land in Mid-Western Ohio that I am beginning to take out of crop production and devote to deer habitat (and maybe build a house, eventually, to keep the wife happy). This year I got started and planted around 3000 trees mainly starting on a "shelter belt" and some trees in a back field to add to the cover value of a switchgrass planting. Next year I plan to take a larger 20 acre field out of crop production and plant it in switchgrass and begin planting a few trees in it. The plan is to eventually pocket out more sections of the field and add more bedding pockets. The main thing my place is lacking is quality bedding cover. Planting food plots at this point is the least of my concerns. Obviously, I am thinking long term on the property because I am young. I have read a few threads on here that talk about different things that can be done to enhance and add diversity to switchgrass and make it more appealing to bed in. However, given my unique property layout I figured I would start my own thread.

Ecoregion Map Land lot Slope Font


I have 3 Main Questions.
1) In this field there is a 4-5 acre plateau that is 10'-15' higher then the rest of the field. I would like to have this area planted in a mixture of trees and shrubs to eventually be a bedding area. For this should the trees and shrubs extend all the way down the side slope to the bottom where the switchgrass is planted or should the trees and shrubs only be planted up top with the switchgrass planted on the side slope?

2) How do I encourage buck bedding on the bottom ground? I was thinking about pocketing out areas and planting conifers and shrubs but this does not solve the elevated problem since the field is really flat in the bottom. Is my only real choice to add some mounds? Any other ideas?

3) How wide does my firebreak need to be around these areas in order to burn the switchgrass every 4 years or so and not have it scorch conifers and shrubs? If I dont burn the switchgrass what will the field eventually turn in to? If it will turn into nice thick cover after the switch dies off in 7-10 years it wouldn't bother me.

If you need anymore information let me know. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
 

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Dustin, for a long term plan on a barren landscape such as yours, despite all of our best guesses and intentions, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck would be to specifically contact a land management guy to "help" you establish a plan, put goals in place, and get you on the right track!

It would be money well spent as opposed to trial and error. Think of it this way, the money you waste over 10 years on stuff that doesn't pan out (trust me, it happens) would more than pay for a habitat guy to work with you. Plus, you would probably be 10 years ahead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Agreed. I have had Jake Ellinger out to my place and I have local help from someone that has worked with CRP for 20 years. I have done a lot of research myself as well (I do not claim to be an expert). Jake proposed putting the field into NWSG and a food plot or two. I am taking his suggestions however I am just looking for a little more detail on how to use the topography and manage NWSG with trees in the mix.

Here is Jake's Plan. The NW most 3 field I have already started on. The big south field is the next thing I plan to start on.
Property Ecoregion Infrastructure Map Land lot
 

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Would maximize on the CRP. We have about 120 ac in the program, and, while they’re interested in forbs and wildflowers, the feds really don’t care if we juice the seed mix with switchgrass and big bluestem to our hearts content as long as their stuff is planted at the agreed upon rate.
 

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If your goal is to get some natural regen to come up thru the switch or to plant conifers or bushes sporadically thru the switch, it would be best to plant the switch at half the recommended rate or even slightly lighter than that. If you plant at the recommended rate, the switch will choke out the planting (conifer or bush) before it gets taller than the switch (unless you plan to go in and kill off the switch good around each planting. Just something to consider, depending on what your goals of the area are. As for where to plan for bedding, look for areas of rise...may only be 6” in flat land territory or larger high points. Deer naturally gravitate to them and any other area that will give them an advantage for either sight, sound or wind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks. Since I am not actually enrolling in a CRP program I can do whatever rate or species I desire. I was thinking 1 lb of cave in rock switchgrass and 1 lb or kanlo switchgrass and maybe some big blue stem. Would that be light enough to allow for natural regeneration yet heavy enough to add security cover? I guess I could go heavier around the edges too.
 

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What I noticed is no soft mast orchards? On your switch I would suggest keeping switch, and natural CRP separated. I would break soil to enhance available seed bank in the whole field then apply switch seed in a few winding (snake rows) in the field. This allows wind breaks and cover no matter which wind direction. It also allows strength for the switch to help keep it standing but still allows CRP and brush to grow in between the rows of switch, or plant spruce/conifer if you want to plant small islands. You do not have to burn, you can cut. By having rows you can also alternate years/rows you cut and still maintain bedding and cover, in the remaining strips and CRP that you do not cut.
 

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Last year I bought 80 acres of divided farm land in Mid-Western Ohio that I am beginning to take out of crop production and devote to deer habitat (and maybe build a house, eventually, to keep the wife happy). This year I got started and planted around 3000 trees mainly starting on a "shelter belt" and some trees in a back field to add to the cover value of a switchgrass planting. Next year I plan to take a larger 20 acre field out of crop production and plant it in switchgrass and begin planting a few trees in it. The plan is to eventually pocket out more sections of the field and add more bedding pockets. The main thing my place is lacking is quality bedding cover. Planting food plots at this point is the least of my concerns. Obviously, I am thinking long term on the property because I am young. I have read a few threads on here that talk about different things that can be done to enhance and add diversity to switchgrass and make it more appealing to bed in. However, given my unique property layout I figured I would start my own thread.

View attachment 458639

I have 3 Main Questions.
1) In this field there is a 4-5 acre plateau that is 10'-15' higher then the rest of the field. I would like to have this area planted in a mixture of trees and shrubs to eventually be a bedding area. For this should the trees and shrubs extend all the way down the side slope to the bottom where the switchgrass is planted or should the trees and shrubs only be planted up top with the switchgrass planted on the side slope?

2) How do I encourage buck bedding on the bottom ground? I was thinking about pocketing out areas and planting conifers and shrubs but this does not solve the elevated problem since the field is really flat in the bottom. Is my only real choice to add some mounds? Any other ideas?

3) How wide does my firebreak need to be around these areas in order to burn the switchgrass every 4 years or so and not have it scorch conifers and shrubs? If I dont burn the switchgrass what will the field eventually turn in to? If it will turn into nice thick cover after the switch dies off in 7-10 years it wouldn't bother me.

If you need anymore information let me know. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Our fire break is about 10-12 yards wide. Our autumn olive & cottonwood trees died when we burned our field, fortunately they grew back from the roots. Not sure how conifers will handle the heat.
 

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Would a flail mower be best for cutting switchgrass to keep the thatch spread out?
It gets cut at the same time frame as you would do a burn. It's already dead and dried so not as necessary but would still be better than a brushhog. If your cutting to establish and trying to stop weed growth within the stand of switch, yes.

Also note many of green lines in your diagram is possibly planted trail system to encourage travel route's. Planting of clover etc., in these cases it is best to use a flail mower but many use a brushhog or mower. Also many use the same for cutting their switch, flail maybe better but they off do to cost, not considering used or renting.
 

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Last year I bought 80 acres of divided farm land in Mid-Western Ohio that I am beginning to take out of crop production and devote to deer habitat (and maybe build a house, eventually, to keep the wife happy). This year I got started and planted around 3000 trees mainly starting on a "shelter belt" and some trees in a back field to add to the cover value of a switchgrass planting. Next year I plan to take a larger 20 acre field out of crop production and plant it in switchgrass and begin planting a few trees in it. The plan is to eventually pocket out more sections of the field and add more bedding pockets. The main thing my place is lacking is quality bedding cover. Planting food plots at this point is the least of my concerns. Obviously, I am thinking long term on the property because I am young. I have read a few threads on here that talk about different things that can be done to enhance and add diversity to switchgrass and make it more appealing to bed in. However, given my unique property layout I figured I would start my own thread.

View attachment 458639

I have 3 Main Questions.
1) In this field there is a 4-5 acre plateau that is 10'-15' higher then the rest of the field. I would like to have this area planted in a mixture of trees and shrubs to eventually be a bedding area. For this should the trees and shrubs extend all the way down the side slope to the bottom where the switchgrass is planted or should the trees and shrubs only be planted up top with the switchgrass planted on the side slope?

2) How do I encourage buck bedding on the bottom ground? I was thinking about pocketing out areas and planting conifers and shrubs but this does not solve the elevated problem since the field is really flat in the bottom. Is my only real choice to add some mounds? Any other ideas?

3) How wide does my firebreak need to be around these areas in order to burn the switchgrass every 4 years or so and not have it scorch conifers and shrubs? If I dont burn the switchgrass what will the field eventually turn in to? If it will turn into nice thick cover after the switch dies off in 7-10 years it wouldn't bother me.

If you need anymore information let me know. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
I have a field vey similar to yours in size...Every year I have a farmer friend of mine come in and cuts and round bales the whole field...never have I burned it and it comes up just like I want it by fall...just a suggestion...good luck!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So I have ordered a bunch of red and grey dogwood shrubs along with a few conifers, wild plumb and raspberry’s to plant throughout. I plan on clearing a few 1/3rd acre pockets in the switchgrass to plant these shrubs and trees and hopefully create several bedding pockets. I plan on planting these using a tree planter on 8’ spaces rows. My question is how dense I should be planting these thickets? From reading Scott Bishop’s threads I swear I remember him saying he planted 600 shrubs per 1/3rd acre (1800 shrubs/acre). This seems like a lot and I can not seem to find where that was posted. Anyone have any idea what kind of density would be good to plant these at?


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How is the switchgrass plantings and the rest of the plan coming along?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Really good. Switchgrass is 4-5’ in some places after the first year. I have one spot I planted last year and it’s 7’+ in a few spots. I just know I need some diversity in with the grasses. I was just out there today and I kicked up a buck and 2 does bedding in the corn of my food plot. The buck looked like at least a nice 10 but he was a half rack so he must be a fighter. Last day of gun is tomorrow so I backed out with hopes he doesn’t go too far and get himself killed. I already shot a buck during bow season so I’m hoping to keep him around for next year. I bought the property in 2018 and got started planting trees then. Probably planted close to 5000 trees since then so it’s nice to see deer using what I have been working on. I think it will be a little depressing for the next 3-4 years before I really will start to see the tree plantings make a difference. Just need to keep pushing and planting lol.


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