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Recent entries

Kevin Hahn

Food Plotting

Activities the Past Three Weeks

Sat, May 25, 2013

The past three weeks has been hectic with all the activities of putting in my corn and soybean research trials throughout Illinois for my real job, as well as trying to find windows of opportunity to install a variety of food plots and to do some habitat work at the farm.  The following are some highlights from the past three weeks.

Planting Dunstan chestnuts

The first week of May I went to our farm to plant some Dunstan chestnut trees.  I got word that Farm King Store locations in Western, Illinois would be getting a shipment of potted Dunstan chestnuts from a nursery in Florida. I called the manager at the Macomb, IL Farm King Store and was able to convince him to hold 5 trees for me.  When I got to the store, they were completely sold out of the chestnut trees except for the 5 trees they held for me.  My interest in chestnuts started a few years back when I read about a how deer were really attracted to chestnuts—evidently deer prefer chestnuts over acorns according to some who have producing trees, so I knew I had to get some for our farm to try them. 
The once widespread and plentiful American chestnut was wiped out in the US during the early 1900’s due to a chestnut fungal blight which was most likely introduced with imported Japanese chestnut trees.  However, in the early 1950’s a single American chestnut tree was found alive and healthy amongst a grove of dead chestnut trees in Ohio.  Dr. Robert Dunstan took scion wood from this single living tree with natural resistance to the chestnut blight and eventually developed what is now known as the Dunstan chestnut.  For more information about Dunstan chestnuts, follow this link

Picture of my five prized Dunstan chestnut trees ready to be planted.  After planting, I caged them as I do my apple trees to prevent the deer from browsing and rubbing them.  They should start bearing chestnuts in 3 years—hopefully.

Apple orchard – Cedar apple rust disease
There are several cedar trees at our farm and on the surrounding farms.  On the morning that I planted the chestnut trees we had very heavy dew.  The moist morning air stimulated the telia galls on the cedar trees, caused by the fungus cedar apple rust (CAR), to sprout telia horns.  It is from the telia horns that spores from the cedar apple rust fungus spread to infect apple trees.  Because spores can travel up to a mile away from other cedar trees, I don’t even bother to try to remove cedar trees from our farm—in fact, I have planted numerous cedar trees as natural screens along the property lines of our farm.  To combat CAR, I only plant apple tree varieties with natural resistance to CAR; otherwise I would have to make multiple fungicide applications to protect the apple trees.  For information about apple tree varieties resistant to CAR and other key apple diseases, see my blog post on apple tree variety selection.

Picture of CAR telia gall on a cedar tree on our farm.  Spores emitted from this structure float through the air on wind currents to infect apple trees up to a mile away.  For more information on CAR, follow this link.

Almost three weeks after the CAR telia galls were spewing spores, I took this picture in my apple orchard showing disease free foliage on one of my trees that I planted in 2010. Because I planted disease resistant varieties, no fungicides have been sprayed in my orchard this year.  These trees have their first apples this year.  Actually the fruit load is too heavy for this size of tree, so I will be hand thinning several of the fruit from these trees.

In the field with my real job.
Beginning on May 13, the soils were finally dry enough in many areas of the state to begin planting operations.  I have research plots scattered all over the state, so I logged a lot of miles and put in some long days getting many of my trials planted the week of May 13th, before the rains came again

Picture of planting soybean variety trials in the Lexington area the week of May 13th.

Habitat work
On the weekends I was able to make it to the farm to do some habitat work.

Killing trees in switchgrass
I have switchgrass planted around the perimeter on many of my food plots to provide a sense of security for the wildlife when they are in the food plots.  Before planting the switchgrass in 2010, I had to cut down several small trees that were growing in an old abandoned pasture where I established food plots and switchgrass.  Sprouts have grown up from many of the stumps in the switchgrass areas so I sprayed a 20% generic triclopyr (same active ingredient as in Garlon) solution on the trees to kill the sprouts.  The triclopyr will also translocate down to the stump and kill the roots—in theory.  I could have done a controlled burn earlier in the year to kill many of the tree sprouts, but new sprouts from the stumps would have only reappeared after the burn, so I decided to spray the tree sprouts instead.  The triclopyr is death on small trees and brush but is very safe to switchgrass.

Picture of the jug of generic triclopyr that I use.  It has the same active ingredient as Garlon, but is a lot less expensive. 

Picture of triclopyr treated cherry tree sprouts coming from the stump of a tree that was cut off at ground level in 2010.  Note that the triclopyr did not injure the switchgrass.

Invasive species control
As part of my Forestry management plan, I have to control invasive plant species on the farm.  This is a picture of a dead Autumn Olive shrub that I treated with a 15% glyphosate solution a couple weeks ago.  I use this same concentration of glyphosate to control bush honeysuckle and multiflora rose.  Controlling invasives on the farm has been a three year project and I think I am starting to win the battle.

Timber stand Improvement (TSI)
Also as part of my forestry management plan, I have about 7 acres of timber that I must kill the existing trees (mainly sassafras and maples) in what was an old pasture and then plant oak trees back to the area.  My management plan called for me to bull doze down this area berfore planting the oaks.  I convinced my district forester to allow me to use hack and squirt technique to kill the existing trees with herbicides then plant the oaks amongst the dead standing trees.  I did a test area of about 2 acres last summer and because of what I consider excellent results with minimal cost and effort, I have done the remaining 5 acres with hack and squirt in the past week.  To learn more about hack and squirt technique for killing trees, see my blog article on this subject.

Picture of this year’s hack and squirt activities.  Hatchet is stuck in sassafras tree that was treated with a herbicide to kill the tree.  This tree will begin loosing all it’s leaves in about 3 weeks and the canopy will open up to provide sunlight for the oak trees that I planted in April—see tree tube in near background.  Note the bright sun lite area in the far background which was last year’s hack and squirt test area.  All the trees in that area were completely killed, including the roots so no sprouts are forming from the dead trees. It only took me about 2 hours to do hack and squirt to that 2 acres last year and with about $50 worth of herbicides.

Picture of oak tree which was planted this April and protected with a Tubex tree tube .  Note the shadow of the oak tree growing inside the tree tube.  All the large standing trees in the backgrowd were killed last sumer using the the hack and squirt technique.

Picture looking down inside the Tubex tree tubes showing the developing oak tree that was planted this past April.  The tree tubes are 4 foot tall and protect the developing oak from browsing and wind damage.  For more information on the benefits of using tree shelter tubes, follow this link

Food plots
I was able to plant two sunflower food plots in the past two weeks.  The picture below was taken on Monday May 20th, just 7 days after planting this 5 acre sunflower food plot near Metamora.  Because we were approaching the middle of May when this plot was planted, I bumped my normal sunflower seeding rate from 28,000 plants per acre to about 30,000 – 32,000 to force smaller flower heads which will ensure that seed heads dry down in advance of opening day of dove season.  We got a rain a few days after planting this location which activated the preemergence herbicide that was sprayed after planting.  Thus far the sunflower stand looks excellent as does the weed control. For more information on growing sunflowers for food plots, see my blog entry:

This past week, I had just finished planting my corn and sugar beet food plots at our farm in SE Illinois and was making a second tillage pass to the areas where I would be planting soybeans when I noticed the skies darkening behind the tree line to the west.  I checked the radar on my smart phone and saw the that an isolated thunderstorm was approaching very quickly.  I knew I would not have time to hook the planter up to get my soybeans planted in advance of the rain, so I stopped the tillage operation, grabbed my broadcast spreader, filled it will soybeans and quickly broadcast soybean seed into the tilled soil.  Just minutes after finishing spreading the soybean seeds, the clouds opened up dumping almost an inch of rain.  The rain was heavy enough that it appeared to do a pretty good job planting the soybean seed.  I will check the plot in a week or so to see how it turned out.

Picture from the seat of the tractor as I was making the last tillage pass prior to planting soybeans when the skies began to darken.

Spreader I used to broadcast the soybean seed ahead of the storm.  We got over an inch of rain from this storm and another which hit latter that evening, so I hope it was sufficient to wash enough soybean seed deep enough—I will know for sure in another week and replant if necessary.

I get questions all the time about what is that yellow flowering plant seen in many of the fields this spring, particularly in the southern part of the state.  Some of those yellow fields are from yellow rocket, a wild mustard species; however, the majority of the yellow fields this year are due to butterweed, also known cressleaf groundsel.  Yellow rocket has a 4 lobed flower whereas butterweed has daisy-like flowers.

Field south of I-70 infested with butterweed.

Close up of butterweed flower





Hello Kevin, I would like to say thanks for all the information that you provide with your blog. I have learned quite a few things. I always thought the locust on our property were black but turns out they are of the thorny variety. (Honey) I am also battling the invasive honeysuckle and autumn olive.I am almost to the point of giving up there are so many on the property. When you say 15% is that 15 chemical and 85 water to the gallon? Is it okay to treat now or should we wait till the fall? They are certainly a edge species.I also got 10 apple trees planted with your motivation on the forum.I was given advice on the autumn olive to cut off at 6 inches and spray the stump with glyphosate in the fall. Problem is that is hunting season and its not easy getting to the base of the bushes with the foliage on. just curious what my options are? 

Posted by D.Douglas on May 26

Doug..Glad you find the blogs of value—I appreciate the feedback. Regarding your questions about 15% solution, you are correct 15% chemical and 85% water.  I assume you have bush honeysuckle (grows like a shrub) vs Japanese honey suckle (vine).  I have the best luck killing bush honeysuckle with 15 -20% glyphosate solution that I spray on the foliage (complete coverage needed) in the early spring-usually during mushroom season as I multitask by wearing my Sthil backpack sprayer to spray bush honeysuckle and multifloral rose and also look for mushrooms.  Bush honey suckle stays green late into the fall and is easy to ID as most everything else has dropped their leaves, so fall application timing works well too—but I don’t like to be in the woods tromping around during hunting season, so I treat bush honeysuckle in the spring.

Regarding locust trees—-see my blog on hack and squirt and go to comments section where I discuss that Tordon is the best herbicide for controlling locust via hack and squirt. Locust are bad about shoots forming from the roots, so the hack and squirt method is very effective for it kills the roots as well at the top growth.

Regarding autumn olive (AO)—I tried cutting and treating the cut stumps with glyphosate. It wasn’t very affective and was a pain to do, so I stopped trying to kill them that way.  I kill AO two ways, 15-20% foliage spray (need complete coverage) when I don’t care about killing plants under the drip line with the glyphosate. If I don’t want to kill plants under the drip line of AO, I mix triclopyr in diesel fuel (1:5 ratio) and spray as a basal bark treatment on the stems from the ground up to about 12 inches—its very effective and kills the tops and roots.  You can Google basal bark treatments to learn more.

Posted by Cooper on May 26

Thanks Kevin, I will start putting a plan together.Will the basal bark treatment work on the bush honeysuckle also? And is the 1 ratio the diesel fuel? The info i looked at said this treatment will work any time.

Posted by D.Douglas on May 26

Doug…I have never tried it on bush honeysuckle but it should work as it has a fairly smooth bark.  I would treat 18 inches of the stems on all sides from the ground up with a 20% triclopyr with diesel fuel mix (that’s what I meant by the 1:5 ratio.

Posted by Cooper on May 27

Hello Kevin let me start by saying thank you for all the info you provide, I always enjoy reading your posts. After reading your post about orchards, and doing some further research I purchased several apple and pear trees, as a food plot for wildlife. I purchased only the most disease resistant varieties (enterprise, liberty, moonglow ect.)and all seem to be doing well. I wanted to ask you if you would recomend spraying them with any incecticide or taking any other type of preventative action to help them along. Just to let you know all of them are in 5ft plastic tubes and have a 2 foot ring of mulch around them. Thanks for all the info.

Posted by Ryan32 on June 05

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