Wildlife Habitat

Common Plants

AESCHYNOMENE: (Deervetch or jointvetch)

A reseeding annual, Aeschynomene grows to 3 to 6 feet heights. Flowers are yellow and seed pods have four to eight joints. Aeschynomene is best suited to warm regions with humid summers and will withstand waterlogging and flooding. While Aeschynomene has fair tolerance to drought it is best suited to areas with annual rainfall in excess of 40 inches. Aeschynomene produces a high protein forage relished by deer and cattle. Seeds are utilized by quail, dove, pheasant, and grouse as a high energy food. Plant 10 to 20 lbs. per acre in the spring after the danger of frost, taking care not to incorporate seed too deeply in the soil (one inch maximum).


Alfalfa is a cool-season perennial legume, well adapted to all of Kansas. Wildlife may browse alfalfa throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Mowing in mid-summer will enhance regrowth and result in a higher quality forage. Alfalfa blooms several times each year and the flowers attract numerous beneficial insects. Alfalfa may be planted in either late summer/early fall or early spring. Seed should be drilled at a rate of 15 to 20 lbs. per acre or broadcast at a rate of 20 to 25 lbs. per acre. Alfalfa will not tolerate acid or waterlogged soil conditions. It is, however, widely adapted to various soil types.


Bahiagrass is a deep-rooted, warm-season perennial grass. Drought tolerance is excellent and it performs well with relatively low fertility on drier and/or sandier soils when compared to most other grass species. Bahiagrass is a favorite of wild turkey; quail, dove, and pheasant also feed on the small seedheads. Sow in early spring taking care not to exceed one inch planting depth (1/2 inch is ideal). Sow 10 to 20 lbs. per acre, use the lower end of the range if drilling into a prepared seedbed and the upper end if broadcasting. Bahiagrass is a subtropical species. While it has been successfully utilized in southern Kansas and Missouri, winter-hardiness is always a concern.


Birdsfoot trefoil is a perennial legume that grows in many different soil types ranging from clays to sandy loams. It is more resistant to waterloging and root rots than alfalfa. Ten to 15 seed are borne in long cylindrical pods, which turn brown to almost black at maturity. Three to five pods are attached at right angles to the end of the flower stem giving the appearance of a bird's foot. At maturity these pods split along both sides and twist spirally to scatter the seed. Birdsfoot trefoil offers excellent quality forage and abundant seed for quail, dove, ducks, rabbits, deer, and livestock. Birdsfoot trefoil may be planted in spring or fall at a depth of 1/2 inch. Sow eight to 16 lbs. per acre (use lower end of range when drilling into a prepared seedbed, upper end when broadcasting).


Buckwheat is an annual crop suitable for most soil types. It is a large seed producer and seed holds on the stalk after ripening, providing food over an extended period. Plant buckwheat in the spring after the danger of frost. Sow at a rate of 30 to 40 lbs. per acre. Planting depth should not exceed 2 inches. Buckwheat grows fast and reaches maturity in 10 to 12 weeks. Seed is relished by quail, dove, wild turkey, pheasant, and water fowl. Deer will browse forage.


Chufa is a warm-season perennial sedge. Roots of Chufa produce a nutlet that is a favorite food of wild turkey. While Chufa does "volunteer", in order to insure a good stand, it should be reseeded annually. Chufa should be drilled at a rate of 20 to 30 lbs. per acre or broadcast at 50 lbs. per acre. When drilling it is advantageous to plug several rows on the drill, such that Chufa is planted in rows spaced from 28 inches to 40 inches apart (this allows turkeys to move freely in the alleys between rows). Sow in the spring after the danger of frost. Seeding depth should not exceed 1 inch. Chufa is well adapted to all of Kansas.


Cowpeas are a warm season annual legume. Quail, turkey, dove, and pheasant utilize seed in early fall. Cowpeas are often planted in combination with other species such as the millets. The combination of cowpeas and millet can be more desirable than either one alone, as the compliment each other very well. Cowpeas may be planted in the late spring or early summer and generally take 100 days to mature seed. Plant 50 lbs. per acre drilled or 60 lbs. to 90 lbs. per acre broadcast.


Crown vetch is a long-lived perennial legume that spreads by creeping underground rootstocks. Established plants are tolerant of moderately acid and infertile soils. Adapted to a wide range of soil types, crown vetch provides permanent ground cover for wildlife and birds. Seed should be planted at a rate of 5 to 10 lbs. per acre or 1 1/2 lbs. per 1000 sq. feet. Use lower end of seeding range when drilling into a well-prepared seedbed, and upper end of the range when broadcasting. Deer utilize early growth as browse.


Hairy vetch is a cool-season annual legume that provides excellent ground cover and high protein forage and seed for wildlife. It is an excellent "reseeder", often one planting will reseed itself for several years. Plant in late summer or early fall at a rate of 15 to 20 lbs. per acre if drilled or 25 lbs. per acre if broadcast. Hairy vetch is also a great soil improvement crop. It “fixes” much more nitrogen than it utilizes, thus greatly benefiting plants growing in association. 


Soybeans are a warm-season annual legume. Deer love this plant--almost to the point where it is very difficult to grow in small plots. Quail, wild turkey, and pheasant utilize the high protein oil seed. Plant in late spring or early summer at a rate of 40 lbs. per acre drilled or 60 to 90 lbs. per acre broadcast.


Management and usage of white Dutch clover is similar to ladino clover. While seed price of white Dutch is generally lower, ladino clover is superior in forage production. White Dutch clover is fairly shade tolerant and does well planted along shaded clearing edges.


Ladino clover is a cool-season perennial legume well adapted to clay and clay loam soils. It is tolerant to waterlogged soil conditions but is not well suited to sandy soils, droughty areas or acid soil conditions. Ladino produces lush, high-quality forage relished by deer and wild turkey. Plant in pure stands for "deer pasture" at a rate of 4 to 8 lbs. per acre, or as a 5% to 15% component of wildlife mixtures. Ladino may be sown in the fall or spring. Seed should be drilled or broadcast and shallowly incorporated into the soil. Do not exceed 1/2 inch planting depth. Once established ladino clover is one of the most persistent of all legumes in eastern Kansas. This persistence is due to ladino clover's unique ability to set flowers and seed even when severely grazed. Ladino clover not only comes back from its roots, it also continually re-seeds itself.


Medium red clover is a cool-season, short-lived perennial legume. It provides an excellent quality forage for deer and wild turkey. The bright magenta red flowers attract numerous insects. Drill 8 to 10 lbs. per acre or broadcast 12 to 15 lbs. per acre. If drilling, take care not to incorporate seed too deeply (1/2 inch is ideal). Red clover may be planted in late summer or late winter/early spring.

KOREAN LESPEDEZA: (Annual Lespedeza)

Korean lespedeza is a reseeding annual legume that tolerates moderately acid soils and low fertility. Korean lespedeza is the earliest maturing of all the lespedezas and provides an early source of food for quail. Korean lespedeza seed is also very economically priced. Leaves of Korean turn forward around the developing seed, providing excellent protection from shattering when seeds are mature. Broadcasting in late winter without covering normally results in adequate stands. Sow 15 to 25 lbs. per acre in February or March.


A warm-season annual grass, browntop millet grows to a height of approximately 2 1/2 feet. A good seed producer, browntop shatters sufficiently to "volunteer". If a stand is allowed to reseed, it should be lightly disked the following spring to insure good soil contact with the seed. Very fast growing, browntop millet matures in 6 to 8 weeks. Seed should be drilled at a rate of 15 to 20 lbs. per acre or broadcast at a rate of 25 lbs. per acre. Seeds are utilized by quail, dove, pheasant, and wild turkey.


Dove proso millet is a warm-season annual grass, most often planted for dove, but seed is relished by all gamebirds. Dove proso millet grows to a height of 3 to 6 feet and usually matures in 75 to 100 days. Sow in late spring after soil temperatures have warmed to at least 70 degrees. Planted with a drill, 15 lbs. per acre is sufficient; if broadcast, 25 lbs. per acre should be used. Dove proso millet seed has a hard, shiny seed coat that effectively resists molding and spoiling.


White proso millet is a close relative to dove proso, but earlier maturing and more uniform in height and maturity. Generally grows to a height of nearly 2 feet. The short height combined with heavy seed production make white proso millet ideal for dove habitat. Quail and pheasant also relish the shiny, hard seed (which like dove proso millet seed is highly resistant to mold). Plant in early spring through mid-summer at a rate of 15 lbs. per acre drilled or 25 lbs. per acre broadcast. White proso millet will mature seed approximately 75 days from planting.


Foxtail millet is a warm-season annual grass with slender, erect, leafy stems. Plant height generally ranges from 2 to 3 feet and maturity ranges from 75 to 90 days. Sow seed in early to late spring at a rate of 15 lbs. per acre drilled or 20 to 25 lbs. broadcast. All gamebirds will utilize seed for food in the fall and winter.


Japanese millet is a warm-season annual grass that thrives on wet soils. Plant height ranges from 2 to 4 feet. Seed of Japanese millet is relished by waterfowl and is also attractive to dove, quail, and other gamebirds. Deer love to browse Japanese millet forage. Plant in the spring after danger of frost is past. Sow at a rate of 15 to 20 lbs. per acre drilled or 20 to 25 lbs. per acre broadcast. Do not exceed one inch planting depth.


Economically priced, DeLange Brand Hybrid Grain Sorghums provide high grain yields, excellent standability, good disease, and insect resistance and maturities that range from 90 days to 128 days. Hybrid grain sorghum planted in strips for gamebirds provide an excellent source of high protein food throughout the fall and most of the winter. Plant 3 to 5 lbs. per acre in 30 inch rows or 4 to 6 lbs. per acre drilled. Sow in spring after soil temperatures reach 65 to 70 degrees.


An annual sorghum that will average approximately 8 feet in plant height. Egyptian wheat lodges (falls to ground) easily, allowing gamebirds access to seedheads in late summer through fall. Sorghum produces dense stands, ideally it should be planted in rows or patches with adequate (several feet) corridors between plants for wild turkey and other gamebirds to travel freely. Plant in the spring after the danger of frost is past. Drill 5 to 7 lbs. per acre or broadcast10 to 12 lbs. per acre.


Hybrid sunflowers are highly productive, yields per acre generally range from 1,000 lbs to 2,500 lbs. Left standing after maturity sunflowers will provide cover for hunters and an abundance of seed relished by all birds through the fall and winter months. Depending upon the hybrid and season, seed size can vary greatly. A pure stand should be planted with a goal of obtaining a final plant population of 16,000 to 20,000 plants per acre. Hybrid sunflowers are usually packaged with 180,000 seeds per bag. Each lot of seed may vary from other lots in number of seeds per pound due to differences in seed size. As long as there are an equal number of seeds packaged in a bag, a 20 lb. bag will plant the same acreage as a 40 lb. bag. Sow in late spring or early summer.

BLACK SUNFLOWERS: (Peredovik Type)

Peredovik type sunflowers are perhaps the most popular of all gamebird food products. These sunflowers are not hybrids but are very productive. They generally grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet. Peredovik type flowers possess relatively small heads packed with small black seeds. Quail, dove, pheasant, and wild turkey relish the seed. Plant in spring after danger of frost is past. It is advantageous to plant several plots in succession of these flowers. A week to 10 days interval between plantings will spread out production over a much longer time period than one planting date alone. Plant 10 to 15 lbs. per acre to a maximum depth of 1 1/2 inch.