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Old 04-06-2014, 01:48 PM   #1
elgato
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Default A year in the life of a farm

I've most enjoyed reading the threads about how folks manage their properties but feel like I have given little back. Thus I inaugurate this thread to share how we manage our La. property over the course of a year for the benefit of all wildlife including deer. I'll strive to make it detail and photo rich as the year progresses and include not only the whats but also the why's.

First the background. I have owned and had total management of 1350 acres for over 40 yrs. I have lived and raised my family on the property for 35 years. In the beginning there were no roads, fields or improvements of any kind. Just a singular block of timber 70% hardwood [ mostly red and white oak ] 30% pine. Today there is a highly developed road system mostly right of ways 2 chains wide with over 160 acres of food plots. Uniquely I am joined on my west side by a childhood friend that owns 1130 acres who shares the same passion and vision I have. We work together very effectively.However for this thread I will focus primarily on my activities.

I have been experimenting with various cultivars for over 20 years trying everything that might grow in central La. [And lots of things that didnt grow ] Today I have ~ 30 acres of perennial clovers ...mostly durano, red clover, some arrow leaf and chicory scattered over about 12 fields and R O W's. Also have 15 acres of joint vetch/alyce clover distributed in 4 fields. The rest is planted in a rotation between summer and winter feeds. Lately I have been experimenting with both summer/winter cover crops using various mixtures found on other websites. My long term goal is to completely eliminate synthetic fertilizers and herbacides. Our soils are very poor but over time we have seen improvement resulting from ag. practices.

One goal I have is to maximize the genetic potential of the local whitetail herd. All of our herd is homegrown. We do no TTT, release no deer of any kind, no DMP, simply strive to develop the natural traits of the herd we are entrusted with. I have seen our herd develop from where it was rare to see a deer all year to now growing 190" - 200"+ bucks. We are currently experimenting to find the optimum age to harvest these La. bucks thus letting them live irrespective of how giant they may be at 4.5 or 6. That said we do take a trophy or two each yr. Beyond that we practice very intense herd mgt.

I will let this serve as an introduction. My plan is to make regular entries posting the various activities that take place throughout the year. We manage very intensively and while the totality may not be for everyone hopefully some of this will be interesting or helpful.
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:12 PM   #2
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Cool. Tuned in
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:19 PM   #3
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I'm in.
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Old 04-06-2014, 06:40 PM   #4
elgato
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It's been raining all day and I'm stuck inside so I thought I would make my first entry. I've just finished putting together the summer planting schedule with seed order. Will start planting late April thru early May.The combo's are"

45 acres--- 50 lb's/acre cowpeas, 3 lbs/acre sunflowers, 3 lbs/acre pearl millet

15 acres---50 lbs/acre soybeans, 3 lbs/acre sunflowers, 3 lbs./acre pearl millet

7 acres---- 50 lbs/acre cowpeas, 3 lbs/acre sunflowers, 2 lbs/acre sorgham

15 acre----- 10 lbs/acre joint vetch, 10 lbs acre Alyce clover

6 acres ---- 5 lbs/acre grain sorgham { to feed the chickens, Dont laugh! }

I'll be planting all this with a no till drill in to a freshly mowed winter cover crop of Elbon rye, wheat, oats, crimson clover, Austrian winter peas,and radishes [ whats left of them]. The idea is the thatch suppresses weeds while the new crop gets started. The legumes fix nitrogen for the sunflowers and millet, and the radishes break up the soil and sequester nutrients. Of course the deer [ and the soil] like all this!

Now for an opinion...I believe nutrition and animal health is THE biggest challenge and limiter in most deer herds. Age is simple. Dont shoot them. I believe genetics while important are far better in most herds than people understand. Rarely are genetics the limiter in a herd. However, getting nutrition in the 100th percentile year round for many years in a row is very challenging.But it takes that for animal health to fully manifest genetic potential. It is extremely hard to get wild deer free of all parasites, infections, and all the multitude of afflictions that compromise perfect health. But I believe that is what it takes to learn what a herd is capable of.

OF course that is just my opinion. I'm not a biologist just a red neck from La. unencumbered by the scientific method.
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:19 PM   #5
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Looking forward to your practices. Thanks for taking the time to share.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:04 PM   #6
Stan R
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We need lots of pics!! Looking forward to seeing the updates.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:56 PM   #7
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Following.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:06 PM   #8
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:32 PM   #9
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Great thread. Don't forget the pictures. Those of us with ADD do better with pics.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:35 PM   #10
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40 years....CONGRATS!

Looking forward to hearing and seeing the progress.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:44 PM   #11
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Tuned in as well. Hopefully one day I'll look back and use some of those plot recipes on my own place
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:55 PM   #12
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tuned in
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:58 PM   #13
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Very cool. Following.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:14 PM   #14
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:29 PM   #15
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:22 PM   #16
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This will be good. I will be following.
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Old 04-07-2014, 02:03 AM   #17
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Obligatory "following" post.

Living the dream with all that land!
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:56 AM   #18
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Now for an opinion...I believe nutrition and animal health is THE biggest challenge and limiter in most deer herds. Age is simple. Dont shoot them. I believe genetics while important are far better in most herds than people understand. Rarely are genetics the limiter in a herd. However, getting nutrition in the 100th percentile year round for many years in a row is very challenging.But it takes that for animal health to fully manifest genetic potential. It is extremely hard to get wild deer free of all parasites, infections, and all the multitude of afflictions that compromise perfect health. But I believe that is what it takes to learn what a herd is capable of.

OF course that is just my opinion. I'm not a biologist just a red neck from La. unencumbered by the scientific method.[/quote]

I agree, nutrition is paramount. Sounds like you are going the extra mile and some of the pics I have seen proves you are doing the right things. Labor intensive to say the least. Will be following.
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:15 AM   #19
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In for this one.
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:50 AM   #20
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Very interested in following your action plan. You and I have a ton of the same thoughts / beliefs on managing whitetails to get the most out of what the Lord has dealt us. I searched your started threads and enjoyed your opinions and findings in your previous post.

"I believe nutrition and animal health is THE biggest challenge and limiter in most deer herds."

Agreed many times over.

Thanks for all your efforts and posting your results for us that are still in the process of continuing the trail and error methods. Good luck on all your action plans.

Rwc
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:26 PM   #21
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I will be in for the long haul listening. I may be purchasing a property approx. 1/2 the size of yours. My first of many questions is about what is the cost to run a 6 strand barb wire fence with a couple of gates. The land is rolling hills. And any suggestions with the fencing would be appreciated.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:16 AM   #22
elgato
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deer farmer View Post
I will be in for the long haul listening. I may be purchasing a property approx. 1/2 the size of yours. My first of many questions is about what is the cost to run a 6 strand barb wire fence with a couple of gates. The land is rolling hills. And any suggestions with the fencing would be appreciated.
I cant help with cost as I have no barbed wire fences here on the farm. What I can tell you is that a 6 strand fence may be great for a properties perimeter but I do not like them as interior fences. We have countless miles of fencing in Mexico and I only build 4 strand fencing now.

I have found mature bucks much prefer to go under a fence and even a 5 strand fence with a wire close to the ground impedes travel. Granted they can and will jump if pressed but I've also observed them walking back and forth next to 5 strand fencing struggling to cross.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:09 AM   #23
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Thanks for doing this, Rusty. I look forward to following this and seeing what is similar and different from my family farm in East Texas. Nice seed combos--I like the variations. Do you rotate the variations each year for different fields or is it based on sunlight amount and soil composition for specific plots?
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:22 AM   #24
Evolver
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1350 acres and it has been raining all day...

I sure wish we had more in common!
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:24 AM   #25
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Man I love these threads.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:38 AM   #26
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Great thread thank you for posting. You sir are living the dream
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:47 AM   #27
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Tuned in on this one
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:10 PM   #28
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Any chance you could get some pics up? Following either way
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:23 PM   #29
elgato
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aggieivy06 View Post
Thanks for doing this, Rusty. I look forward to following this and seeing what is similar and different from my family farm in East Texas. Nice seed combos--I like the variations. Do you rotate the variations each year for different fields or is it based on sunlight amount and soil composition for specific plots?
I'm generally experimenting each growing season though cow peas and soybeans are a summer staple. Trying the sunflowers in them this year is new for me. Historically I have used sorgham with the peas.

My original plan was to plant the soybeans alone in fields planted last fall with 50 lbs/ acre each of rye,wheat, and oats. No crimson or other legumes. I was going to plant the peas with sunflowers and pearl millet in fields that were planted last fall with 50/lbs/ acre rye, 20 lbs/ acre oats, 15 lbs/ acre crimson, Austrian winter peas and radishes. I figured the sunflowers would use the nitrogen from the legumes.

Then at the last minute I decided to put sunflowers and pearl millet in both the peas and beans to compare the difference. All the fields are large enough to handle grazing pressure and with good light and soil.

I'm trying sunflowers for the peas to climb. deer to graze and hopefully attract doves . One field is 13 acres plant exclusively in sunflowers and managed soley for dove hunting. My scheme is to hold as many doves as possible on the farm them attract them to the dove field.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:27 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Cajun View Post
Any chance you could get some pics up? Following either way
I NEED HELP! For whatever reason I can post trail camera pics no problem but when I try to upload pics from regular camera they dont upload for posting. Planning to buy new camera to see if it makes difference.

Will humbly appreciate any advise cause I am happy to make photo rich.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:17 PM   #31
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do you upload to photobucket?
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:55 PM   #32
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I have trouble a lot posting pictures but i've found that if I email my picture to myself and then save it from the email it will usually post. I have a mac computer so my photos are on iPhoto. I go to iPhoto and have the picture sent to my email. Then I save the image from my email to download folder. Go to advance and manage attachments. Choose the file from the download folder. Sometime my phone will post pictures, but most times it won't. But I think the problem is definitely the size of picture so anyways you can get the photo to a standard size should work for posting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elgato View Post
I NEED HELP! For whatever reason I can post trail camera pics no problem but when I try to upload pics from regular camera they dont upload for posting. Planning to buy new camera to see if it makes difference.

Will humbly appreciate any advise cause I am happy to make photo rich.
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:07 PM   #33
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:07 PM   #34
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Hmmmm! I download pics from camera to a 'pictures file' in computer same as I do trail cam pics. Just those from regular camera dont upload. I'll try pic from phone just to see but would rather use camera.

Dont have photo bucket...or know how to use it...or what it is?

Do ya'll think it is my computer? Or file size of photos? Or?
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:18 PM   #35
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Here's a pic from phone. That works??? My neighbor with a 183" 7 yr old.
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Old 04-09-2014, 07:10 AM   #36
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Thanks for the information on the fence, I will now do the 4 strand instead of the 6 strand when fencing from now on.
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:06 PM   #37
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Good thread! I'm in!
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:03 PM   #38
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Im in for this one!
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:59 PM   #39
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Thanks for posting this. I grew up hunting West Feliciana Parish for the first 19 years of my life.

Really liking what you and your neighbor are doing. Keep up the good work and congrats on all of the success you have had.
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:08 PM   #40
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We are in full spring green up here in La. so tomorrow we are filling all the feeders with protein containing wormer. Specifically we add 115 lbs of .6% Fenbendazole per ton of feed. It tends to be very wet in La. so we add wormer to the feed twice a year, at green up and early Sept. to rid deer of internal parasites.

Some have expressed concern that adding wormer may weaken a deer's immune system. The way I see it the deer can have loads of parasites they are not shedding which compromises their health so apparently they may need help. External parasites can be a big problem as well. I have seen deer in pens die from ticks. I'm sure many of you have seen your dog sick or even go in to shock from excess tick infestation. SO we do every thing we can to help the deer shed the parasitic load. And best I can tell our deer are living as long as a deer can.It's just another small detail that all adds up to results.

We feed protein from mid January thru August and it is readily consumed even with all the crops we grow. I've had biologist tell me we didnt need to feed protein pellets since we can grow crops year round and maybe they are right. But I see it as an insurance policy to keep nutrition in the 100% and also as a way to medicate if necessary. What I know is that they eat a lot of protein even with the feeders next to lush crops.

Now for an opinion...The Holy Grail for feeding protein is to ensure that every deer can eat all it wants every day regardless of it position in the hierarchy or location on the farm. That equates to feeder density! I have seen in Mexico a tight correlation of quality improvement to feeder density. On the farm here I have a feeder for every 67.5 acres and they all get used even though I have a modest population.

Opinion #2 is that I believe which brand of protein used is immaterial. Also think it's not that important whether it is 16% or 20% or anything in between. All the brands are good. The key is the protein/fiber/fat ratio, a 'normal' vitamin dose like they all have, and now we are including probiotics and digestives which most have. THe other key is to buy a feed from a reputable supplier and ensure consistent quality. Years back this was a problem even for the major suppliers. Today I suspect most major providers supply consistent quality. I've been feeding protein { 300-400 tons/yr } for 20 plus years and have never bought a brand name feed. Here at the farm we have the local mill make our feed per our formula on an as needed basis.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:25 PM   #41
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Do you have one protein feeder per location?

300-400 tons/yr!
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:30 AM   #42
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Yep, with Mexico on run rate of ~ 20 tons/ month now. It's an adult dose.

Just 1 feeder per location here but as you can see density very high.
In Mexico we have 1 feeder per pen but also a cottonseed feeder in each pen plus many of the feed pens also have a water trough in them. Again idea among other things is to let everybody get a chance.

One of the things I think is great about food plots is it allows equal grazing for all animals. Easy to do in La. Much longer book on things I've tried in Mexico to grow crops.
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Old 04-13-2014, 08:36 PM   #43
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Mowed fields planted in elbon rye, Austrian winter peas and crimson clover today. Will plant in couple weeks with summer crops. Elbon rye was 6-8 ft tall
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Old 04-13-2014, 08:40 PM   #44
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Here is a 4 acre field under a high line that was planted in crimson and radishes last fall. The deer ate all the radishes! The fall planting was to prepare the field to plant a combo of joint vetch and Alyce clover. I will drill it directly into the clover early May.
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Old 04-13-2014, 09:08 PM   #45
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that is badazz man, all of it
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Old 04-13-2014, 10:22 PM   #46
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Awesome stuff. Do you drill into the elbon rye thatch?

Have you planted Alyce clover before? What's your opinion on it versus Durana or Dutch White?
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:11 AM   #47
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Quote:
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Awesome stuff. Do you drill into the elbon rye thatch?

Have you planted Alyce clover before? What's your opinion on it versus Durana or Dutch White?
I use a no till drill directly thru the rye thatch. Still experimenting with this as the thatch can be quite thick. Yesterday I experimented raising the bush hog 5-6" high. Seemed to smooth out the thatch better and I'm not worried about stubble height.Last yr I had no problems but didnt plant the rye as thick as this year.

I've used Alyce clover for years mostly mixed with Joint vetch. They are very compatible though like slightly different soil conditions. Deer clearly prefer the vetch over Alyce but consume both. Both are planted in the spring and in La. if big enough field planted will drop seed which resprouts the following spring. I had a vetch field reseed for 15 yrs before just this fall reworked to plant anew this spring. Of the two I prefer vetch. Lastly both Alyce and vetch have great late summer early fall growth and tend to be where deer are concentrated after the brutal La. summers.

I love Durano. Have planted both Durano and white dutch. Unequivocally Durano does better here. I usually plant Durano with a red clover mix in fall. By year 2 the Durano has taken over. Both are fall planted clovers with different growth characteristics than Alyce or vetch. I'm planting the vetch/Alyce combo in to Crimson as it will have seeded out by early May dieing shortly and the combo will grow thru the thatch.

If I had to choose between Alyce or clover Durano would be unquestioned option. One value to vetch or Alyce over clover is it sometimes can be more available late summer in droughty conditions if clover goes dormant.
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:29 AM   #48
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I should add that my soils tend towards heavy loam even some red clay. I dont think Durano or vetch will do as well in sandy soils. Alyce better option in sandier soils.
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:52 PM   #49
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This is an awesome thread. I will be following it avidly
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:44 PM   #50
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Following.
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