Thursday, March 3, 2011

Turkey Management

Tips for Producing Top Turkeys

Turkey season is just around the corner, so it is time to talk about the best ways to increase your turkey population and protect the ones you have on your property. Turkeys need food, water, cover, and protection and will travel to find these necessities. During fall and winter, turkeys can be found in the woodlands where acorns and other mast crops are available. When spring arrives, turkeys will feed in open areas where green plants are starting to come up and insects can be found.

Managing your forest is important for your turkey population. Oak trees are vital to the wild turkey and leaving a variety of oaks is good for the turkey population. This variety ensures that turkeys will have an abundance of acorns from both red and white oaks. Other important mast-producing trees include dogwoods, pecan, and black gum and are good winter food supplies and also provide nutrients during years of oak mast failure. River bottoms, creek bottoms, and drains are good places to target mast production species. Landowners may replace less mast producing species like poplar, elm, gum, and cypress to upgrade the turkey habitat. Wild turkeys also need soft mast produced by dogwood, grape, wild cherry, huckleberry, blackberry, dewberry, and wild strawberry. These ensure a well-balanced diet for the wild turkey population. When harvesting is done, care should be taken not to harvest dogwood or wild cherry trees.

Mature pines and pine-hardwood stands are good turkey habitat. Pine plantations that are not too dense are the best choices for turkeys. This allows for ample food supply and cover. Mature pines that have fruit producing shrubs, broken up with small agricultural fields (particularly those with waste grain) or herbaceous fallow fields are also outstanding turkey habitat. If pine plantations are too dense, prescribed burning and thinning can open up dense stands to sunlight that enhances understory growth valuable for turkeys. Prescribed burning helps to increase the quantity and quality of the food supply and should be done every two to three years.

Turkeys require open areas to feed which include pastures, fields, cropland, orchards, logging decks, roadside, powerlines, gaslines, and other areas that provide a break from continuous woodland. These areas have green vegetation, seeds, and insects. Grassy areas have the highest concentration of insects, therefore turkeys prefer open areas. Possible plantings include greenfield combinations such as wheat, clover, vetch, summer grasses, sorghum, corn, millet, or chufa. Turkeys also like corn fields and bean fields. For wild turkeys, having clean borders around the cropland is a wasted space that should be converted into winter grazing or cover. This practice is also beneficial for other wildlife species including quail.

Supplemental plantings can increase quantity and quality of food available for turkeys. The most favored plantings for turkeys is chufa, a nut sedge. Chufa does best on sandy loam soil on new sites or those recently cultivated. In wildlife plots of two acres or larger, chufa should be planted on part of the opening with the remainder planted in other turkey foods such as clover. Experts say that chufa should be planted between May 15 and June 30, when there is enough soil moisture for germination. Clover is another choice for supplemental planting. Ladino clover lasts longer and holds up better than the red or white varieties. Ladino clover performs best on fertile and silty loams, while crimson and white clover is more adaptable. The Tillman clover does best in places where others might fail, especially near the Gulf Coast. Planting a combination of crimson clover, vetch, wheat, or rye will also do well together. Bahia grass and clover can be planted together in early spring and provide a year-round food source for turkeys. Oats, wheat, and rye are good choices for turkey food plots. Grain, sorghum, millet, milo, and Egyptian wheat should be planted in strips because a dense stand may be too difficult for turkeys to traverse. These strips should be 3 to 4 feet wide, leaving 2 feet between rows to allow easy traveling. (Managing Wildlife, Yarrow and Yarrow, 1999)

The National Wild Turkey Federation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the wise conservation and management for the American Wild Turkey. More information regarding NWTF can be found on their website For more information about Alabama turkey season and bag limits, visit

Timber Market News, March 2011

I would like to share some interesting findings in a recent study by The Forest Research Group. This new study looked at the sharp increase in lumber exports from US markets to China. The study shows a tremendous increase in shipments of logs and lumber from the North American West Coast to China. The study looked at softwood log exports from Washington and Oregon where log volumes have increase from 1.5 MMBF (thousand board feet) in 2005 to 70.8 MMBF in 2009. That is an increase of over 4,300 percent. The numbers for 2010 are said to be higher but figures are not yet available from the source.

Softwood lumber exports to China show similar patterns. In general, logs from public forest in the western US and Canada cannot be exported. Since most timber in British Columbia is in public forest, Canadian exports are therefore mostly in the form of lumber, not logs.

What has caused the surge in exports? There are two contributing factors. The first is the collapse of US housing starts. The second is the log export tariff imposed by Russia which has caused a decrease in logs shipped from Russia to China.

These dramatic increases are impressive.  What is even more exciting is that these numbers are not even at all-time highs! The good news is that the demand for lumber is going up and that is great news for timberland owners! China Exports in Perspective and US Lumber Hoisted by China Sales are two articles that give detailed graphs and information regarding the timber exports to China.

(Lutz, Jack. 2011, China Exports in Perspective, Forest Research Notes, Volume 7, Number 3.)

(Carlton, Jim, 2011, US Lumber Hoisted by China Sales, The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2011)