Seed Production and Cost of Mourning Dove Field Plantings in Alabama

Cost-effectiveness of various planting options is an important consideration in selecting planting strategies for mourning dove (Zenaida macroura, hereafter ‘dove') fields. We documented costs and seed yields of three cultivated and three wild dove foods, and tested effects of fertilization rate, row-spacing, and seeding rate on seed yield of highly-preferred dove foods. Browntop millet generally had the greatest seed yield and lowest cost/kg of seed produced. Broadleaf signalgrass (Brachiaria platyphylla) generally was the second highest-yielding species, but high seed cost limited cost/kg of seed produced for wild species. White proso millet, dove proso millet, and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) produced little seed and had low cost-efficiency. Fertilization rate did not affect seed yield of the species we tested. Effects of row spacing and seeding rate on yield of browntop millet and dove proso millet varied between study sites. Browntop millet was by far the most cost-effective crop for dove field plantings. Seed production per unit cost may be increased by using narrower row spacings and lower seeding rates than currently recommended. Fertilization of dove field crops is not an effective option to increase seed yield and may be unnecessary.

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