I too have a farm in southwest Missouri that is used only for raising wild critters and a little bit of cultivated crops. It used to be a 325 acre beef farm, but we decided to jettison the herd a few years back and have slowly been converting it to a more biologically friendly environment for turkey, deer, and quail. We have already seen tangible improvements in our deer herd and a population increase in turkeys. We know the best is yet to come, however, we still have a lot of room left for learning and improving, which you continue to have a hand in. I really enjoyed your theory on cedar thickets being a “biological desert” (GDTV 15). I had always looked at cedar thickets as great cover for deer, but now realize they serve little purpose. We have several acres of cedar thickets that I now plan to either thin out or completely eradicate. I plan to establish mixed stands of WSGs and switchgrass in their place. As good bedding cover is certainly the limiting factor on our farm, the conversion of the cedar glens to bedding cover will be a huge boost in the biodiversity of our little corner of “deer heaven.”
Just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for your efforts, the information you dole out is always interesting and helpful. If I may be so bold to suggest future topics, I think people might like to hear your theories on timber stand management; specifically, choosing cull trees/species and understanding forest biology in general. I know some of our woodlots are way too thick, but I just don’t know where to start. I’m apprehensive because I never want to cut down any tree. Heck, my Dad had to twist my arm to agree to have one of our many cedar thickets bulldozed and planted into a 3 acre clover, chicory, and lespedeza field! Any help would be appreciated and thanks again Dr. Grant.
Thanks for the kind words. It sounds as if you have a great project! If the topography is steep where some of the cedar glades are, there may be a good native grass seed base present. There was a great native seed source at my place. I simply cut and felled the cedars, allowed them to dry for two to three years, then burned them where they fell. A fabulous composition of native warm season grasses and forbs recolonized the area. The state botanist and I have identified 176 species of native warm season grasses and forbs. The only maintenance I’ve done on those sites since the original fire has been additional prescribed fires on a three to five year rotation.
Cedar glades that became established on tillable land usually don’t have a good native plant seed base as it was disturbed during the previous tillage.
TSI is very site and mission specific. It’s a great tool, but be prepared for the response time to be much slower than most other types of habitat improvement. The most important tip I would offer concerning implementing a TSI project is to make sure the stumps of the cut trees are treated with the appropriate herbicides. Stump sprouts rarely develop into good quality timber and rapidly grow out of being a beneficial habitat component.
Growing Deer together,