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Open field planting

960 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  johnhunter
I have a large field (approx. 80 acres) that is in CRP, that I would like to plant some cover into it near a newly established 10 acre wetland. I was thinking of planting some Norway and White spruce along the neighbors edges for screens and then creating blocks of thermal cover along the edge of the wetland. The area I am looking at planting is approx. 20 acres and I would like to plant most of it into trees, with a few openings. The area I placed the wetland into was commonly used as escape cover and I would like to restore an area for the future.

What can I plant that would give me a real thick santuary since this is a grass field now?

And what are other good tree species that I could plant to help restore this open field to cover?


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I have planted many thousand of red pine LOL. Very little deer browse to them have occured. The white pines I planted many years ago did not make 1 year, the deer took care of that, just my experiances.
Try speckeld and/or tag alder in the areas near the wetland areas, autumn olive creates cover in a hurry in open fields and norway spruce is a tree that grows pretty quickly. Crab apples would be a good choice as well.
Area around the wetland - try to plant stuff that is tolerant of wet conditions. Shrubs like speckled alder, silky dogwood, winterberry are good. Buttonbush will take over the joint. If you want to plant some conifers there, I've got a sleeper for you, that the experts won't recommend - White Cedar. Don't worry about deer damage; the deer in Hillsdale County don't know what the hell it is, since it doesn't grow there!

For the uplands, White Pine is tough to beat, but you may have to thin the stand sooner than you think, in order to keep the lower branches from dying off. My plantation of 2-2 White Pine transplants is now 6 years old, the trees are now 12-14 feet tall, and the stand needs to be thinned over the next 2 years.

Also on the uplands - plant a good-sized stand of solid switchgrass. And, if you're into providing something of beauty, as well as nesting cover, plant a stand of Big Bluestem, Indiangrass and wildflowers. Don't know anyone who successfully established prairie grasses who wasn't darn glad they did.

For shrubs, Autumn Olive competes better than anything else in grassy weed fields. Uplands only, it doesn't like getting its feet wet.

Back to the wet areas - plant a few Tamarack (use the native larix laricina, rather than the euro version). Not great cover, but the most beautiful tree on your farm when the needles go yellow.
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Don't worry about deer damage; the deer in Hillsdale County don't know what the hell it is, since it doesn't grow there!

Thanks for the info. It's funny that you mention the White Cedar as I had the same thought, but didn't know how well it would grow. I'll probably give it a try.

Thanks everyone

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What spacing should I use on the Tag Alder and the Autumn Olive?

I was thinking something like a 6 x6.

6x6 or 6x8 is what I would try. AO you could easily get by with 6x8.
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