Article Date: Friday, November 08, 2013
J. Wayne Fears
Research done for establishing a long term perennial food plots recommend that Durana clover be considered as the crop to plant due to its shade tolerance, wide adaptability to weather extremes, low maintenance, high protein content (up to 28%) and long life, 7 years or more with proper management.
Where Did Durana Come From
Every time I discuss Durana clover at a deer management seminar or in an article I get the question, "Where did Durana come from?"
Durana is a clover developed by the University of Georgia and Ag Research of New Zealand. It was developed as a grazing crop for cattle and took years of research and tolerance studies to bring it to the Durana we know today.
Test plots of the new clover were planted in the late 1990's in Georgia. In 1998 tests were conducted during a severely dry late winter, spring and summer. Researchers expected nothing to be left of the Durana test plots after the drought. In September that year rain returned to the area and the Durana exploded. The plots recovered so well that they were grazed with cattle that fall. That was when the researchers knew they had a new clover that was special, both for cattle and deer. The test plots results, documented under drought conditions with fierce competition from weeds, Bermuda and fescues, did extremely well for the establishment and long term management of food plots.
The food plot tests have reportedly attracted as many as 60 deer without any measurable grazing pressures. According to researchers Durana will last three times longer than many other white clovers under continuous grazing and heat and cold conditions. Plus it requires very little direct sunlight to thrive in wooded settings.
Plan on planting Durana in September or October for a fall planting in the South or in March or April in the spring. In the North plant for fall in August or September or for spring April or May. In areas where harsh winter weather can damage young clover seedlings, plant after the danger of a hard freeze has passed.
- Soil test and fertilize according to the test results. It requires a pH of 6.0
- If you cannot soil test, fertilize with 300 pounds/acre of 19-19-19 at planting.
- Disk the ground 6" deep and prepare a smooth seedbed.
- Broadcast 5 pounds of Durana seed per acre no more than 1/8 to 1/4-inch deep, followed by cultipacking the seedbed.
-Pre-inoculated Durana seed are not inexpensive, at anywhere from $4.00 to $6.00 per pound, but remember it is a long lasting perennial.
Management of Durana is easy, but necessary to get years of sustained yield. Depending on weed coverage, mow the food plot down to 5-inches one to three times each summer. Do not mow if your area is in a drought. Fertilize once every year, in early fall, according to soil test or with 350 pounds of 0-20-20 fertilizer per acre.
So whether your property has open fields, pine plantations, firebreaks or old logging roads consider planting Durana clover. In most cases you will not be disappointed if it is done correctly.
Editor's note: J. Wayne Fears, named the Food Plot Doctor by the Whitetails Unlimited Magazine, is one of the pioneers who helped develop wildlife habitat and food plot practices that are common today. Now his decades of experience are available to Global Outfitters readers. J. Wayne uses questions from our readers and TV audience as the basis for his columns in Outdoor Outfitters.com. and habitat segments on TV. Just mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org The GO Habitat columns will be archived on the Globaloutfitters.com website, so you can go to them for reference in the future.
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