Once again in 2022, I’ll have a new forage to test. Since it won’t be able to be sold to the public for one to two years, that gives me some time to figure out all that is wrong with it. That is correct, it allows me to find out as many of it’s flaws as possible. Whenever I bring this up at seminars or shows, I love seeing the look on people’s faces. Why am I not trying to find out how great a forage is?
I my career, I’ve seen a lot of challenges. Mother nature tends to be our biggest challenge at times. How many of you know if it’s going to be a wet year or dry year? Is it going to be a cold year or hot year? Do you have sand ground, loam soil or clay? In the wildlife industry, If I slap a picture up of 5-foot-tall brassicas, people tend to ohhhhhh and awwwww but even that 5-foot- tall brassica I may not sell to the public if the percent change it will be successful is low.
Since I sell to people across the US, there is a wide range of soils and climates. There also is a wide variety of food plotters, from experienced to beginner. To deem a forage “sellable” I always am looking for those that can handle a wide range of situations.
So, I seed new forages across as many properties as I can, I am always looking for the less than obvious. The human eye cannot detect changes within 16%. The vision test is way less of a landscape view of a forage than close inspection. I am looking for plant diseases. I am looking for insect pressures. If insects are pressuring a forage, that tells me a lot beyond the obvious. I am looking to how a forage handles browse pressure, as many of you have high deer densities. I also am looking for anything that I see that could make it hard to grow consistently.
The message I am hammering home today is that every forage has a place but many forages that we see discussed on social media have flaws if not managed properly. If more of you would learn more about what is wrong with some forages, you may have less failures in your wildlife program.