Renovation of Johnsongrass Communities with Vetch to Benefit Northern Bobwhites

Land taken out of cultivation in the Blackland Prairie soils of Alabama and Mississippi frequently reverts to a plant community dominated by Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), with co-dominants of marsh elder (Iva annua), verbena (Verbena brasiliensis), and Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis). These plant species are of little value as a food source for the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and eliminate many desirable quail food plants. Renovation of a Johnsongrass community was attempted by mowing during the fall and overseeding with hairy vetch (Vicia villosa). Seeds of this species are known to be utilized by quail during both spring and fall months. Data collected from line transects showed a 62% mean coverage of vetch at the end of the first growing season and a 92% mean coverage of vetch after the second growing season, with a corresponding decrease in coverage of Johnsongrass plant community species.

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