Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

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Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:07 am

To all habitat/galliformes bird biologist types out there:
A friend of mine with a degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology from Iowa State (it was a combined program when he graduated) told me that ragweed seed has more useable energy for birds than corn. I thought he was smoking something and then I researched it; it does, though not by much (1 to 2 kcal). Believe it or not, you can order ragweed seed from various native seed companies. I am considering planting a small patch of it within a couple of days as a food source for pheasants that I have been trying to attract for several years now. Western ragweed is somewhat rare in this part of the state, and I have only seen ONE plant in a waste area by a quarry. My understanding is that it re-seeds itself and would provide a food source for pheasants. I also don't want to be responsible for increased in Claritan-D gross revenue or my own divorce. All you boys and girls in the Midwest tell me about the clouds of pheasants and quail you push out of the "sneeze weed"!
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby orhunter » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:45 am

You're right about corn....sort of. It has little nutritional value but can provide calories when the snow gets deep. Be aware that pheasants are resourceful when it comes to eating and starvation only occurs under severe conditions. They are pretty well fed the rest of the time. Planting food sources can attract them at times but what holds them in an area is cover, not food. It takes a lot of cover and it has to be the right stuff. If it's too thick for them to move around in it, they'll avoid it. It's all about feeling safe from predators and at times, provide some food.

Something else to consider is nesting cover. Everything starts at the egg. Alfalfa makes good nesting/brood cover.

Contact Pheasants Forever, if they still exist, for help in obtaining seed.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:05 am

Bird Hunter, I have been working habitat in the MW for several decades. Ragweed is for sure an excellent source of food, bugs, and the giant variety provides avian protection. I have shot alot of bobwhites and pheasants out of patches of giant ragweed in MO, KS and IA. Alot of fields have the seed in the soil and disking alone will germinate it, but planting is an excellent idea if the seed is not already present.

I also shoot alot of quail and pheasants where good cover butts up to corn. I think they like soybeans even more and they are much better source of protein. The bare ground benefits of agricultural fields butting up to good cover is very obvious however as I find alot more birds in this type of habitat than I do large expanses of CRP with insufficient bare dirt and crop stubble nearby. Now CRP next to crops is GOLD!, but increasing in shorter supply.

Back to the ragweed - hunting in Kansas it is very common to find good numbers of bobwhites and some pheasants in the native grass pastures with patches of ragweed. Some areas of Texas as well. I had 11-14 covey days in KS hunting nothing but native grass pasture which had not been abused by overgrazing and the patches of ragweed that could be found in them. The quail were always close the ragweed. There was not an agricultural field within miles of the ranch I was hunting.

Yea you are on the right track. I am interested in hearing about it if you go forward with it.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:21 pm

A.G.,
Well, tomorrow morning I am broadcast seeding 8 acres in the following mix: Sainfoin, (50%), intermediate & tall wheatgrass(45%) and the other 5% a mixture of blue flax and California poppy. On the west end of the worked-up ground I will be seeding the 5 lbs of Ragweed seed and several bags of Predovik sunflowers. For the gee-whiz effect, and because I am curious, some Jerusalem artichokes along one hedgerow. The entire 40 acre place has been pretty much designed as an upland bird sanctuary/factory/dog training-hunting spot. We have about 100 to 150 acres of winter wheat caddy-corner to our place. For the past 4 to 5 years, we've had nesting cover out the gazoo. We finally did have one pheasant that nested, but I did not see any of her brood, and did find one member of said brood dead, about the size of a Hungarian partridge. One hedgerow is about 3/8 mile long, 2 rows of juniper/conifer and the other three rows: three-leaf sumac, Siberian Pea (does not do that great here) and a mixed row of chokecherry, snowberry and some other odd-ball stuff. The other hedgerow on the west end of the parcel is shorter and has woods rose, elderberries, buffalo berry and a mystery genus prunus small tree that no-one can figure out. We have always had Huns on the place and surrounding sagebrush/rabbit brush BLM ground. I went with the ragweed as a food source; although I've thought any self respecting wild pheasant could find something to eat on our place. If I can keep it irrigated (new wheel line, which is why I worked up the ground, added sulfur (crummy high ph, saline dirt) and about 64 tons of dairy compost) I should have a good nesting cover/food plot stand. As for P.F., our rep here was swinging for the fence, trying to get projects in the hundreds and thousands of acres, and was not interested in pursuing small projects. I have also heard that he no longer the P.F. rep anymore; related? Good be...some say...
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:37 am

Sounds wonderful. All you need now is weather conducive to a good hatch. Would love to see some photos if you are ever inclined to post some up. This Winter/Spring I finished burning 4 fields of warm season CRP little bluestem, side oats gramma, forbs and clover a couple of months ago, overseeded some red clover back into each field, over seeded, fertilized and limed three ladino clover plots which have wheat and rye growing in them as well (will be good brood habitat), fertilized, limed, planted and sprayed corn and soybean plots and have been planting some seedlings of various varieties. Thinking through some edge feathering chainsaw work before I start in on that. I enjoy Habitat work and really enjoy watching the wildlife that responds to it.

Don't know about your neck of the woods, but here the raccoon population is completely out of control and the nest predation, (particularly on our turkeys) has been brutal. I trapped 30 coons off my farm in 4 nights using only 10 DP traps this past year.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:01 am

A.G.,
We are out on the sage-brush steppe: Southern Idaho, 25 miles north of the Nevada border. We do have raccoons in Idaho, but are usually confined to the river bottom/streambed woodland interface. Our main nest predator: RAVENS. Federally protected, of course. Another challenge out here are the !@@#! voles! I've put out a kestrel and 2 barn owl boxes; I do notice less, but they are still a problem! I will post pictures!
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:42 am

Where did you buy your ragweed seed and how much did you pay for it?
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Meridiandave » Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:54 am

Are you down by Hollister?

Three years ago my brother bought a farm in eastern oregon. It is 100% set up for the management of pheasants and quail.

At year 4 of managing this property, nearly all of our food plots will be planted in red milo and sunflower. We allow some areas to go fallow every year. The key is watering the property, even the fallow fields.

We have used millet, sorghum, long tailed milo, and rooster booster mixes and seem to be settling on red milo.

I am very familiar with the Magic Valley. My family has hunted there since the 1960's and would be more than happy to give you some pointers. I can look at the property on On X or google and help you lay it out. Just pm me and we can discuss more.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:56 pm

No question that Milo is a big draw for birds, and deer. The genetics of Corn and Soybeans have been refined so much that commercially successful crops can now be grown in areas with a lot less rainfall than used to be required, and so it is extremely rare to see Milo planted in Mo, Ia or the eastern half of Ks any more.

The down side I have with Milo in my food plots is hordes of blackbirds and grackles descend on them and strip them clean way too early in the fall and winter, leaving nothing for the lean months of Feb/March when food supplies are at their lowest. Corn left standing holds up a lot more reliably in my area of the country but that of course will vary elsewhere.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:52 am

A.G. & M.&D.,

I bought the seed from an outfit named Roundstone Native Seed for 12.50 per pound; I only purchased 5 pounds as an augmentation of the nesting cover/brood habitat. Then of course there was the shipping. I also added a butt-load of Sunflowers. Yes, I am just east of the metropolis of Hollister. Interestingly, for years I was convinced I was in a "pheasant desert", that there were NO pheasants within a 5 mile radius. Then, last winter I saw more pheasants than I have ever seen in Idaho, about 3 miles away as the crow flies, digging for waste grain and beans on a nearby organic farm! Hopefully, they will find me!
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Meridiandave » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:52 am

Dee Alan Pendergraft?

How many acre feet of water?

If I got you correct, you have a lot of good cover in tge general vacinity.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby Just-a-bird-hunter » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:49 am

M&D,

You are correct, most of the nearby cover is sagebrush covered grassland (although most of the grass is cheatgrass) and at least 100 acres of irrigated crop land caddy-corner to us.
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Re: Planting Ragweed for Pheasants & Quail

Postby LongHammer » Tue May 01, 2018 1:48 pm

AverageGuy wrote:Don't know about your neck of the woods, but here the raccoon population is completely out of control and the nest predation, (particularly on our turkeys) has been brutal. I trapped 30 coons off my farm in 4 nights using only 10 DP traps this past year.


Sounds like you need a FoxPro so you can start calling them coons in during the day. I am sure the dog would love stretching a few. I wish we had a population worth going after. I have taken Otto out to try and find a couple but gave up after 2 skunks and no coons.
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