Photo by P.J. Perea
Turkey trees and shrubs
Woody plants that offer permanent food and cover attract and hold turkeys. Knowing what to plant and choosing a quality nursery can make all the difference.
Keep these things in mind before you dig:
- Set goals for your planting.
- Conduct a habitat site assessment that includes a permanent vegetation inventory to help identify what plant species you have, where they are and which trees and shrubs to consider for your next planting.
- Choose turkey trees and shrubs best suited to your region
- Choose a quality nursery to get the best results the day you plant and be there to help as your trees take root and beyond.
Establish planting goals
Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Do you also want to attract deer or other wildlife besides turkeys? Could your planting have additional benefits like visual screening near roadways or water and soil retention? Think through all the benefits before deciding where to dig. A great resource to consider is your NWTF regional biologist. They understand turkeys and are trained to provide excellent land management and planting advice.
Assess your site
Knowing your property is critical to choosing what and where to plant. You may have excellent turkey trees and shrubs already growing, but need more of these species to improve your habitat. You may also need to expand the range of plant species to achieve your specified goals, which might involve removing existing vegetation.
Choose the best turkey trees and shrubs
To hold turkeys all year long, consider a variety of trees and shrubs that provide diverse foods at different times and that offer cover for rearing, roosting and travel. Planting a variety of trees and shrubs to produce soft mast (fruit), hard mast (acorns and nuts), as well as concealment and thermal cover will maximize the benefits to turkey and other critters that will call your property home. Again, your regional NWTF biologist can be a great resource.
Understanding the suitability of plant species to your region is equally important, and one of the most important factors to consider is cold weather hardiness. Check out the interactive USDA Plant Zone Hardiness Map at http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov for help in deciding which plants are best for your area.
Photo by P.J. Perea
Choose the right nursery
Do your homework. It can be challenging to get the right planting stock. Research nursery providers based on:
Plant material knowledge and planting expertise
- Does the nursery have staff trained and available to help growers plan their plantings for a range of purposes including wildlife habitat, fruit and nut production, windbreak protection, aesthetics and other considerations?
- How well does the nursery understand its plant material including those species requiring pollination? Does the nursery offer the species you are interested in and does it understand where and what conditions are best to grow them? Are they able to confirm your initial choices are a good match for your site and your planting goals?
- Are they trained to make recommendations about preparing your site for planting such as invasive species removal, weed control, as well as soil preparation, watering and plant nutrition?
- Is the nursery easy to work with including taking time to respond to concerns and questions you may have? Are they comfortable referring you to other industry professionals like local foresters, land management consultants, biologists, tree planting contractors and even other nurseries who could provide additional services and assistance?
- Does the nursery offer planting, seedling establishment and after care products? Is the staff trained to provide technical assistance and recommendation for safe and proper use of the products? These items may include specialized planting tools, grow tubes for trees and shrubs, animal repellants, training stakes, weed barrier fabric, fertilizer and mycorrhizal treatments.
- Does the nursery have a flexible and reliable shipping system (FedEx, USPS, UPS, local carriers) and do they allow pickups of orders at their nursery on weekdays and weekends or by other arrangement?
- We sometimes take this for granted but is the nursery easy to reach by a variety of means including phone, email and fax? If unavailable during business hours when you call, how prompt are they in responding? Do they have an 800 number? A helpful website?
- Does the nursery offer flexible payment terms including cash, check, credit card and other methods?
Reputation, reliability and quality control
- How long has the nursery been in business? Does it have a good track record of supplying quality stock and standing behind it should problems arise? Do they have repeat customers who are satisfied with planting stock quality and customer service? Are they comfortable providing you with references if requested?
- Is the nursery certified in the state it operates? Is it certified to ship to your state if your property is located out of state from the nursery?
- Is there a warranty offered on the planting stock? If so, how does it compare to other nurseries you are considering?
- Does the nursery produce the seedlings? If the nursery is a reseller, what assurances do they offer regarding plant material quality and recourse in the event of a quality problem?
- Does the nursery keep track of seed sources and are they able to tell you from where the seed was collected? Seed origin or provenance is important to assure consistency and survival in your plant hardiness zone.
Ask questions, plan your plantings and place your orders well before the busy shipping season. Check out the seedlings offered by NWTF at www.OutdoorDealHound.com and consult with other nurseries to get your next planting off and running. — Steve Tillmann, Plantra, Inc.