Common Questions - Straightforward Answers

By Jon Cooner

 Q You advertise that Whitetail Institute perennials can last three to five years or longer. What do I have to do to make them last that long?

This is one of the most common questions our in-house consultants receive. Whether or not your perennial plot will last up to three to five years as intended depends on a number of things. Mother Nature must cooperate, of course, but there are factors you control that can heavily influence the life span of your Whitetail Institute perennial plot. These include choosing the correct forage for your soil type and performing the maintenance steps recommended by the Whitetail Institute for that forage. To choose the correct forage for your conditions, be sure to consider the soil type in which you will be planting. Remember that Imperial Whitetail Clover and Chicory Plus are intended for heavy, bottomland soils that hold moisture well. Imperial Alfa-Rack Plus is designed for good soils that are well drained. And all three require a minimum of 30 inches of rainfall per year. (The eastern half of the U.S. gets over this 30 inch minimum.) Imperial Whitetail Extreme is designed to thrive in a variety of well-drained soils in areas that receive a minimum of 15 inches of rainfall per year. All of our perennial blends also do best in a properly prepared seedbed. If you can’t work the soil, then consider Imperial No-Plow or Secret Spot, which can be planted without ground tillage. When maintaining your plot in later years, be sure to fertilize according to the maintenance instructions published by the Whitetail Institute on each bag of seed and on its Web site, These instructions include fertilizing your plot each year. Also, if you are concerned that you may have a grass problem in your Whitetail Institute perennial plot in the spring or summer, be sure to spray the plot with Arrest grass herbicide proactively in the early spring, as soon after green-up as possible when grass has started to grow but is still in seeding stage, meaning before it matures to a height greater than 12 inches. If your Imperial Whitetail Clover or any clover or alfalfa plot shows signs of invasion by broadleaf weeds, consider spraying the plot in early spring with a solution of Slay weed herbicide and Surefire surfactant. To control broadleaf weeds in Alfa-Rack Plus, Chicory Plus or Extreme, be sure to keep the tops mowed out of your plots during spring and early summer and then once again in the early fall to keep any upright annual weeds from having the opportunity to create seed heads. The Whitetail Institute recommends mowing as a normal maintenance practice for all its perennial blends. Don’t mow, however, when conditions are unusually hot or dry or within one week before or after you have sprayed the plot with a herbicide. While disease, insects and drought can also affect the lifespan of a plot, grass and weed competition is the most common source of problems, and thankfully, these are factors that you can control to a great degree. Be sure to closely follow all label directions when using Arrest, Slay or any other herbicide or adjuvant.

Q  I live in Florida, and my hunting property is in Illinois. I did not have a chance to spray for grass in early spring, and now my clover plots have mature grass in them. Can I do anything to control the grass at this stage?

Yes, but there are a few things you should consider before you decide to try. Weed and grass removal is best accomplished when grass and weeds are very young and still in seedling stage, meaning before they have matured to a height greater than 6-12 inches. They will be much more difficult to control after they mature, but not necessarily impossible. First, it makes sense to do a cost/benefit analysis to see whether you will come out better financially by replanting. If your plot is already several years old and toward the end of its natural life span, choked with mature grass and weeds, or both, starting over by preparing your seed bed for a new planting may be a more cost-effective option. If you are dealing with mature grass or weeds, the herbicide label will also give you additional mixing instructions for such situations. In some cases, these include the addition of adjuvants and stronger mixing rates. Don’t ever mix an herbicide solution stronger than recommended by the label, though — if you do, you could kill your plot. Always strictly follow all label instructions on Arrest, Slay, Surefire and any other herbicide or adjuvant. It may also be advantageous for you to mow mature grass and weeds before spraying the plot. If you do so, be sure to wait at least a week after mowing before applying a herbicide and a week after applying a herbicide before you mow. (See article on page 50.) If you are facing weeds that are not of a type the Arrest and Slay labels say they are designed to control, or if mature grasses and weeds are much taller than your forage plants, you also have the option to apply a non-selective glyphosate herbicide, such as RoundUp, to the plot by means of a wick bar. A wick bar is an herbicide- application device that, like a conventional sprayer, consists of a tank to hold herbicide and an applicator bar. However, instead of spray nozzles, the bar wipes herbicide onto the plants it touches. If adjusted correctly and with the correct herbicide mixture so that herbicide is applied only to what the applicator touches, a wick bar can be used to apply a comprehensive herbicide directly to weeds without killing the forage plants beneath. These suggestions are not a guarantee that you will be successful in controlling mature grass or weeds, but they offer the best options if you elect to try it.

Q  Can I use Winter-Greens as a cover crop for Imperial Whitetail Clover or Alfa Rack Plus?

Yes. However, due to the size of the plants in Winter-Greens, it is best to add a maximum of only about 2 pounds per acre when using Winter-Greens in that application. That will leave space for the clover, alfalfa and chocory to develop.