7/17/2020 8:46:40 AM
By John Gruchy
Annuals are plants that complete their lives in one growing season, while perennials are plants that grow and bloom over the spring and summer, die in autumn and winter, and return in the spring from their rootstock.
If the objective is improving available forage for white-tailed deer, plantings should address the nutritional stress periods for deer, which in Mississippi are late winter and late summer. In short, no one planting will meet all nutritional needs of deer, turkey, quail, or other game animals. Several different plots including warm- and cool-season annuals and cool-season perennials are often necessary.
Selecting perennial forages
In Mississippi, clover is most often selected for a perennial planting. Clover varieties should be selected based on the moisture-holding capacity and fertility of the planting site.
Manage soil fertility
After selecting a good planting site, the next step is applying the soil amendments of lime and fertilizer. In order to properly apply lime and fertilizer, collect a soil sample and have it analyzed by the Mississippi State University Cooperative Extension Service.
Control the weeds
The best strategy for weed control, aside from fall planting, is to “burn down” areas thoroughly with one or two applications of a glyphosate herbicide before planting, then minimize soil disturbance by using a no-till drill.
Keep it trim
Most perennial forages should be mowed two to three times during the summer to keep the sward healthy and to aid in weed control by preventing weeds from going to seed. It is recommended to clip perennials early in the spring. Also, if using a bushhog, make sure the setting is high enough to avoid clipping flowering heads of clovers and other perennials.
John Gruchy is the Private Lands Coordinator for MDWFP.