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Cultivated Crops for Ducks

Corn and sorghum are good crops for clearings in green tree reservoirs or for open manmade ponds. Drain pond in early spring. Choose varieties of the correct height for the depth of the flooding. Plan to have ears or seed heads within 10 inches of the water's surface. Plant the best varieties and cultivate and fertilize as recommended for high production in your area. Follow normal procedures for planting, tillage, and fertilization. In the fall before ducks arrive re-flood to a depth that allows ducks easy access to grain. See Figure 4.

Figure 4: Crops for ducks.
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Japanese millet is a good choice for lands too wet for corn or sorghum. It is an improved variety of wild barnyard grass adapted to wet soils and requires no soil preparation or care. Maturation time is 75-110 days, depending on the variety.

The following plan should produce a good crop. Lower the water level in July. Broadcast Japanese millet seed at a rate of 20 lbs/acre immediately after mud is exposed. Fertilizing with 500 lbs. of 5-10-10 per acre will greatly increase seed production. Raise the water level slowly in October. Eighteen inches is an ideal depth. Avoid submerging plants completely unless large numbers of blackbirds attack the crop. In this case flood the crop completely until the waterfowl season starts so small birds cannot get the seed. Lower the water to expose the seed when ducks arrive. See Figure 5.

Figure 5: Japanese millet drawdown & planting schedule.
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In certain cases it may be illegal to hunt waterfowl over planted crops. Know your state and federal laws. If crops are grown for harvest do not leave any portion of the field unharvested. You may hunt over unharvested fields but do not smash crops down to make them more attractive to ducks. Such actions are interpreted as baiting which violates federal laws. Penalties for violating waterfowl hunting laws are severe.


next up previous
Next: Converting Beaver Ponds to Up: Bring Ducks to Your Previous: Flooded Woodlands for Ducks
Warnell School of Forest Resources