Michigan Sportsman Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,714 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm thinking of changing my plans for this spring. Pretty late to be second guessing, but ... Here's the idea:
We have about 120 acres of farmland. I'm going to take about 8-10 acres of land that is next to some woods on the neigbors property, and plant it back to trees. There is a very deep drainage ditch that separates the properties - that area is heavily used as a travel corridor.
My original thought was to plant a mixture of spruces, pines, and shrubs (staghorn sumac, etc.) around the perimeter that I'm going to plant. Then in the middle, plant a mixture of hardwoods.

After much reading, I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off to plant the same perimeter for a dense cover, and then plant the interior as a perennial food plot.

Any thoughts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,082 Posts
8 to 10 acres is a big area to plant to trees and shrubs in one season. If you plant browse species, and you have a lot of deer, be prepared for a tough road. Heavy browsing will kill or slow the growth way down.

This is what I would do:
Plant islands of cover, throughout the field. Then connect them with rows of trees. I would make the islands from 30 feet wide up to 1/4 acre.

Assuming you have a lot of deer, I would plant non-browse species, that grow fast. I would still plant some browse species (silky, red osier dogwood) in adjacent rows.

Plant:
Autumn Olive, Speckled Alder, Norway Spruce. These grow fast and deer will not browse them.

Try to create as much edge as possible. I would leave a few spots for foodplots. I would also plant a few to prairie grasses. Diversify the land as much as possible.

Another option, would be to plant the entire plot to prairie grasses. They reach 4 to 7 feet tall. Then plant islands of cover with shrubs.

Purchase a 4 gallon back pack sprayer, and spray roundup around the seedings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,116 Posts
I'm with bishs. Cover is the most important. Bushes, conifer and aspen plantings will fill in fast and provid adequate screening and escape cover in just a few short years. Hardwoods can take 20 years and you won't be left with much cover. I'd plant irradictly, with small pockets of cover strategically placed to allow for funneling of game. Also, avoid planting in rows. Rows increase stress in wildlife populations, promote less screening, and longer lines of site between predator, and prey.

It's a tough job as lack of cover and existing farmland will probably lead to excessive browsing from new plantings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,714 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info.

My original plan included browse species, but that's exactly why I'm considering backing off those right now. Maybe I should expand a little.

I can't do this area in 1 year - I've got a 5-8 year plan. What do you think about the following:

The area is pretty much a rectangular shape right now. I'm going to target about 1.5 acres per year. My plan is to plant a perennial clover (Ed's meadow mix) over that area. Then plant my norway spruces around the perimeter of that 1.5 acre, and spray around them keep the other vegetation back. they shouldn't browse on the spruce, but they'll have a reason to visit the site. i can put pockets of other non-browse bush cover between the spruce on the perimeter, as well as in the middle of the 1.5 acre section, sporadically. as the cover gets bigger, it will shade out some of the clover, but that's ok..
then do this each year, until the entire area is covered. that way, when the entire section is done, there will several square sections of norway spruce, with additional covers intermixed.. my ultimate goal is to then take the south side of the stand, and head east with a fence row to connect to an existing 4-5 acre woodlot. that would create a funnel to the adjacent property on the east side.

in the end, it would be about 1.5 acres wide, and about 6 acres deep.

Its not possible, by using non-browse veg. such as spruce, etc., to create a perimeter that is "too thick", is it? I want to create an area that has dense cover all the way around, with some food sources in it, and leave it as a safe zone.

i guess my real question is this- by doing 1.5 acre each season -
regardless of what I do on the interior of the area, is it acceptable to create a dense layer of cover around the perimeter of the area?

thanks for the input - helps me avoid mistakes early.. ;-)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,116 Posts
Autumn olive is an awesome cover type planting that is not readily browsed by deer, but great, great cover. It grows well, can be transplanted, and spreads nicely as well. It is easy to find AO growing by the side of the road, and easy to transplant(with permission of course);)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,714 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
autumn olive - is that similar to russian olive?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,082 Posts
If you are converting farmland, you should check with your county Farm agency. You would probably be elgible for CRP, or FSA programs.

Autum Olive is a fast growing shrub. Its not native. It grows all over, you are looking at it everyday along the roadsides. Autum Olive will grow well in the well drained areas. Plant Speckled Alder in the wet areas. I would plant the spruce at 8 foot spacing. Don't worry about too thick of borders.

I would plant the islands so they are open in the center. It will create more edge, and allow deer to bed in the grass during wet weather. This will save on trees. Like North Jeff, said broken cover is best. The more structure and edge the moe wildlife. Solid blocks of spruce or pines are never as good as mixed stands.
Unless you want an acre for winter cover.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,082 Posts
I know rows are not the best way to plant shrubs. But I have planted most of my shrubs that way, so I can locate and spray around them. I plant at 8 to 10 foot spacing. I plant three rows that way, the fourth row I plant the trees at 30 foot intervals. This saves on trees, and creates small openings in the cover. Greatly adding to the wildlife benefit. I plant from 500 to 600 an acre.

Are you planting in a weed field, or harvested cropland?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,714 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks for the great info, guys..

i'm planting over crop land - so its pretty clean land.

Do you know of a link that I can check out, to see what speckled alder and autumn olive look like? do you pretty much have to find it in the wild, or is there a source to get it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,201 Posts
Do a google search for the species you want and you should be able to find a link pretty easy.

I just ordered autumn olive from Alpha Nurseries in Holland. Do a search in this forum for nurseries and that should give you a few more places to find them from

HM
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,116 Posts
I would consider letting the property grow in native vegitation for this first year, and spot-spray areas with Round-up 2-3 times this year in areas you plan to plant in 2005. Never underestimate proper weed control in tree or bush planting. Transplanted, larger trees or bushes, even transplanted Autumn Olive will most likely due very well in your current fields, but the smaller varieties or seedlings may be choked out rather quickly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,822 Posts
Most of our plantings were done in rows. We tried to plant rows of conifers surrounded by rows of shrubs. Some of the benefits of planting some of your trees/shrubs in rows are easier maintenance and wildlife will follow the rows. Our trees are big enough now that we don't have to worry about weeds any more. Predators cannot see down the rows and deer use these areas for bedding and travel. The 2 best rublines on our land follow rows of pine and spruce trees that we planted. The best buck travel corridor on our property follows a single row of spruce trees that is next to a corn plot. I brush hog the 6 ft wide travel lane between the corn and the row spruce trees in the summer and the bucks use it during the fall. At the end of that travel lane we have autumn olive bushes with mock scrapes beneath them. Past the travel lane is a clover field. Often times, the bucks hold up near the autumn olive and work the scrapes and licking branches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,116 Posts
As Mike suggested, it is much easier to maintain rows of plantings, if maintainance is needed for your particular plantings. Also, trees planted in even rows will experience the optimum boards per foot growth if planted in correct spacing for the given species. In fact, most government assistance in planting will ONLY
assist you IF you plant in the recommended spacing for the particular tree. The Sanilac Conservation District was going to assist me in the cost of 1/2 my plantings(my wife and I planted over 8000 trees and shrubs by hand in 2 years), but those plantings had to be planted in certain spacing/rows. I then declined, due to literature in their own handout.


In the conservation district tree order form from Sanilac County it referred to a MN study that showed where grouse populations were increased 6X with staggared plantings, over row plantings. It stated the planted rows encouraged disease, predation, and warfare among the grouse populations, and wildlife will always benefit by staggared plantings. The form suggested that for timber production, plant in rows, for wildlife restoration, plant staggered groups. Maybe the implications aren't exactly the same with whitetail deer, but there may be some corelation, and it makes sense this study would certainly apply to other game species, such as rabbit or pheasant. Even the forester that visited my property from the conservation district admitted that the state's focus in on "future boards per foot", not wildlife restoration. So, he suggested, if I want the ultimate future timber harvest, plant in rows, if I want the ultimate future wildlife potential, with less timber production, plant in staggered groups.

I'm sure the negative effects of row plantings are much, much less when only covering small areas such as a 1/4 or 1/2 acre, and surrounded by bushes and shrubs that are densly connected and offer permenant screening cover.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,714 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Again - thanks for all the information.

Bishs - i've already order a couple hundred norway spruce, will try to pick up some Autumn olive as well. but - if i'm using the spruce to make a perimeter around a food plot (clover) - how would you space the spruce? i'm thinking of staggering the trees about 3 deep around the perimeter, but not sure how close to do that. Will those seedlings grow together after 10 years, if planted, say, 8 foot apart?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,822 Posts
Rzdrmh, It's ok to plant spruce on the north side of your clover field. If I were planting spruce around all sides of a clover plot, I'd back the spruce away from the clover and plant shrubs next to the clover. As the spruce trees get bigger, they'll shade out some of your clover especially if the plot is on the small side. Clover needs at least 4 hours of sunlight daily. If you're making a large food plot, the shade would be less of a concern.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,082 Posts
My 10 year old trees are spaced at 8 feet and are not touching yet. I plant my spruce in double rows, I plant the second row in between the trees in the first row. That way I get a visual screen faster. You could do as Michael suggests and plant a row of shrubs. Norway Spruce grow huge, they are the largest spruce trees that you see growing. They have the long 7" cones.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top