Quantity And Quality Of Japanese Honeysuckle On Arkansas Ozark Food Plots

In the spring of 1968 Japanese honeysuckle was planted on four wildlife food plots in the Arkansas Ozarks. Two years later, with moderate fertilization and occasional mowing, this evergreen species produced 239 ovendry pounds of winter forage per acre, 12 times more than the surrounding forest. The nutrient quality of leaves was consistently high throughout the year. Leaves retained through the winter contained about 14 percent crude protein, more than eastern redcedar, flowering dogwood twigs, panic grasses, and pussytoes, the most common native forages eaten by deer during the winter. Honeysuckle leaves were more digestible than any native forage. Since honeysuckle was not browsed heavily by deer until mid-winter, most current annual growth was available after mast had been eaten and when green forage was scarce. This paper reports yield and nutritive quality of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) grown on wildlife food plots in the Arkansas Ozarks; it compares productivity on food plots to that of native vegetation in the surrounding forest. It also shows how the nutritional quality of honeysuckle varied by seasons and to what extent honeysuckle was browsed by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virfJinianus). The Sylamore Experimental Forest, where the study was conducted, contains four major habitat types; upland hardwood, upland pine-hardwood, cedar glade, and stream-bottom hardwood. While average summer vegetation yields range from 90 to 210 ovendry pounds per acre for the four types (Segelquist and Green 1968), winter yields are low-averaging about 15 pounds per acre, of which only 2 pounds are green vegetation of preferred species. When mast (primarily acorn) yields are high, sufficient winter food is available for deer, but when mast yields are low, as they frequently are, winter foods are scarce, and the deer population declines (Segelquist et al. 1969). Honeysuckle was planted on food plots in the spring of 1968 to provide supplemental green winter forage for deer. Food plots were located along narrow ridge tops and stream bottoms, the only areas level enough for mechanical cultivation. Plots were confined to three of the four major habitat types; upland hardwood, upland pine-hardwood, and streambottom hardwood. Upland hardwoods occupy north and east slopes, while the pine-hardwood type occurs on the drier south and west exposures. The stream-bottom type occupies the moist fertile zone along the narrow stream valleys. The cedar glades are relatively open, but their shallow rocky soils with dry south and west exposures are not suited for cultivation.

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