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March 27, 2014     The Woodville Republican
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Page 6A The Woodville Republican, Thursday, March 27, 2014 Fishing Ponds: To Fertilize Or Not To Fertilize by Wes Neal cause the total weight of fish muddy, weedy, have existing as one sample to MSU for tures fall below 60 F, usually color within a week or so. Associate Extension Professor, Fisheries MSU Extension Service A fertilization program can greatly increase fish pro- duction in fishing ponds. Adding nutrients stimu- lates the growth of the micro- scopic plants, or algae, that feed the small animals that feed the fish. Fertilization can increase fish production by three to four times, result- ing in more fish, bigger fish or beth in properly managed ponds. Also, these tiny plants can shade the bottom and prevent aquatic weeds from taking over. However, fertilizing car- ries significant risks, so it's important to consider careful- ly whether or not your pond would benefit from a fertiliza- tion program. Once you start fertilizing your pond, you should con- tinue fertilizing each year be- in the pond will increase, and the fish will come to depend upon the additional food re- sulting from fertilization. Likewise, if you choose to fertilize, you will need to in- crease fish harvest to remove surplus production and pre- vent stunting. A typical pond requires removal of about 15 pounds of bass and 30-40 pounds of bream per acre per year to maintain balanced predator- prey populations. Fertiliza- tion may double or triple the amount of fish that need to be removed, so do not fertil- ize if your fishing effort and harvest are light. Ponds that already receive nutrients from the water- shed, such as nutrients from cattle or from the application of poultry litter, usually do not need additional nutrients. Ponds should not be fertil- ized if a commercial feed is provided to fish, or if they are dense plankton blooms, have a fish population that is out of balance, or have excessive water flow: Also, fertilized ponds are green, so don't fertilize if you don't want a green pond. Before fertilizing a pond, it is important to test the al- kalinity of the water to see if the pond would benefit from the addition of agricultural limestone. Alkalinity test kits are available at most pool and spa stores. A pond may have enough nutrients to be pro- ductive, but the nutrients are not available because alkalin- ity is too low. Adding lime may provide a boost in productivity with- out fertilization. A soil sample will be needed to determine if and how much lime will be required. For small ponds, collect 10 to 20 samples from the pond bottom, mix them together, let the mixture dry, and then submit the mixture analysis. Larger ponds will require submission of two or more samples created the same way. Your local Exten- sion agent can assist with this process. You should also test the hardness of the water. Hard- ness is a measure of the con- centration of calcium and magnesium. Phosphorus is less soluble in hard water, so fertilization rates must be adjusted accordingly. If you decide to fertilize, be- gin applications in the spring when the water warms above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, usual- ly in early March. This timing promotes the growth of algae before rooted aquatic weeds can become established. Once you start a fertiliza- tion program, maintain it throughout the growing sea- son. Fertilization is effective only during warmer tempera- tures and should be discon- tinued when water tempera- in October. The required number of applications during the grow- ing season will vary from one to 10 or more, depending upon the pond's response to fertilization. Choose a fertilizer high in phosphorus, as it is the most important nutrient in ponds. Fertilizer comes in three forms: liquid, powdered and granular. Granular fertilizers are small pellets and are the easiest type to find in stores. Granular fertilizers must be kept off the bottom mud until the pellets dissolve. Granules can be placed on a wooden platform set at 4" to 12" be- low the water surface, or the felizer bag can be slit open on top in an "X" and carefully sunk in shallow water. After the initial fertilizer application, see how the pond responds to the added nutri- ents. The water should devel- op a greenish or green-brown Allow at least one week, and preferably two, between ap- plications in order to monitor the results of each addition. A good way to measure bloom density is to use a pie tin nailed to the bottom of a yardstick. Lewer your pie tin or disk into the water until the disk just disappears from view, then raise the disk un- til the disk can just be seen again, and measure the depth by noting the water line on the yard stick. In farm ponds, a depth between 18 inches and 24 inches is ideal. If the bloom is thicker than this (depth reading less than 18 inches), don't fertilize. If it is greater than 24 inches, apply fertilizer. For additional information on pond fertilization, contact the local Extension Service office and request Publica- tion 1428, "Managing Mis- sissippi Ponds and Small Lakes." MDWFP Partners To Manage Private Wetland Habitat Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife (MPFW), a partnership of state and fed- eral agencies, conservation organizations and private companies, is working to improve wetland habitat on privately-owned land for wa- terfowl and other wetland- dependent wildlife. MPFW is seeking to en- roll new private land wetland projects, and the application period will end May 1, 2014. Assistance to private land- owners can be in the form of cost-share payments for ap- proved habitat management practices or providing mate- rials such as water control structures to enhance wetland management infitmcture. Aer enrollment, biolo- gists will work with landown- ers to develop a cooperative habitat management plan to benefit waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. In exchange, landowners agree to manage and flood wetland habitat an- nually for 10 to 15 years. With about two-thirds of our nation's land in private ownership, landowners are important stewards of essen- tial fish and wildlife habitat. Mississippi's landowners are very interested in manag- ing waterfowl habitat, but sometimes lack the most ef- fective tools or the sufficient finances to best achieve their objectives. This unique part- nership will be an effective way for landowners to lever- age their funds with MPFW technical and financial as- sistance to improve wetland habitat on private lands," said Houston Havens, Wa- terfowl Program Leader for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. Private landowners inter- ested in learning more about wetland management assis- tance through MPFW may contact Houston Havens at (662) 299-0273 or houstonh@ mdwfp.state.ms.us; or James Callicutt at (601) 432-2079 or j amescaCOndwfp.state.ms.us. For more information regarding waterfowl in Mis- sissippi, visit our website at www. md wfp.com/waterfowl or call us at (601) 432-2199. Follow us on Facebook at www. facebook.comJmdwfp or on Twitter at www.twitter. cem/MDWFPonline. Transitioning From Cool To Warm Season Forages by Lionel Brown, Jr. Phone: 601-888-3211 Email: lionelb@ext.msstate.edu Here in Wilkinson County we have dealt with a rough and icy winter. The cold frig- id weather has caused harm to most of the ryegrass in the area, resulting in higher cost input maintaining healthy livestock. The time to start preparing for warm season grasses is quickly approach- ing. Warm-season grasses can greatly compliment cool season grass pastures in a rotation. There are approxi- mately 1.73 million acres of warm-season forage produc- tion in Mississippi. These systems, which include Ber- muda grass, Bahia grass and summer annuals, initiate growth in late April or early May and produce 65 to 75 percent of their growth from mid-June to mid-August. The warm-season grasses are highly palatable when harvested timely or grazed rotationally. Many warm season grasses over the years have gotten the reputation that they are not as nutritious as cool-season grasses. In most cases, this reputation has come from a misunderstand- ing of how to properly man- age them to reduce fiber con- tent. One of the drawbacks of warm-season grasses is that the cost of establishment of- ten becomes a concern with high seed prices. If a pro- ducer is willing to undertake the obstacles of establishing and managing these types of grasses, the benefits can be tremendous. Many perennial summer grasses can produce an aver- age of 2-3 tons of forage per acre. With intensive manage- ment, Bermuda grass and Bahia grass can produce much more. On average, one can expect to support one cow per acre during the summer months when using the proper rotational grazing scheme. This is obtained by establishing a pasture or hay field with a thick, lush and profitable stand. A perfect stand begins with good soil preparation. The first step is to obtain an accurate soil sample and improve soil conditions ac- cordingly. This needs to be done 6 months ahead of planting. According to Extension Forage Specialist Rocky Le- mus, you should apply lime and fertilizer according to soil test recommendations. Line lime should be applied 6 months prior to planting while phosphorous and po- tassium can be applied at planting time. New pastures or hay fields will benefit from early application of ni- trogen applied at 3-4 weeks after planting. In the ease of sprigged hybrid Bermuda gn'ass, nitrogen should be ap- plied at 40 days after plant- ing to help increase the num- ber of runners and increase canopy cover. Successive applications of fertilizer will prolong the life and improve the performance of the new stand of your warm-season forages. More information on forages and soil test kits can be obtained from the Wilkinson County Exten- sion Service office at 982 Second South Street in Woodville or by calling (601) 888-3211. Winter Time Is Best To Trap Wild Hogs by Bronson Strickland Associate Extension Professor, Wildlife Ecology and Management MSU Extension Service Wild hogs continue to be a plague throughout Missis- sippi, occupying about half of the state's land area. A farmer recently said, "I wish I had a deer problem." His statement summed up the hog problem very well. There's no doubt that deer can cause a lot of damage to certain crops, but that damage is minor compared to the destruction wild hogs can cause. What's more, hog damage is no longer limited to farmland. You may even see them in your back yard! Wild hogs have a growth rate that exceeds any oth- er large mammal in North America. For example, a ma- ture doe in very good condi- tion will have two, and very rarely, three fawns in a sea- son, while an adult sow typi- cally produces 4 to 8 piglets per litter. So hog litter size is at least double that of white- tailed deer! This ability to re- produce so prolifically makes control efforts very impor- tant if we want to stem the growth and spread of hog populations. Currently, the best way to reduce hog populations is through trapping. Hunt- ing and shooting have their place, but a well-organized trapping program will yield the best results relative to time and effort. The key to getting a hog in a trap is through its stomach. Wild hogs are classified as omnivores, which means they eat beth plant and an- imal matter. About ninety percent of a hog's diet is plant matter, including roots, fruits, acorns and -- much to the chagrin of our Mississip- pi farmers -- crops like corn, soybeans, rico, peanuts and sweet potatoes. The remain- ing ten percent of a hog's diet is meat, which it acquires op- portunistically. This essen- tially means it eats any meat it can find, such as mice, salamanders, frogs, snakes, rabbits and deer fawns. Winter is the best sea- son for hog trapping because most of the foods that hogs relish are limited in cold months. Summer crops that foods, such as blackberry, persimmon and muscadine, have already been eaten. Probably the most sought-af- ter wintertime food is acorns, which is unfortunate for our native wildlife species, such as deer, turkey and squirrels. When acorns are available, trapping can be difficult sim- ply because hogs aren't near- ly as attracted to bait when Mother Nature's candy is abundant on the forest floor. It may be best to wait until deer season has dosed to minimize activity in the woods and to reduce any le- gal constraints when using grain-based foods for hog bait. Always check with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks for hog trapping regulations at http'J/www.mdwfp.com. Here are a few tips for ef- fectively trapping hogs. First, the bigger the trap, the better. Small "box" traps are occasionally used to catch an individual hog, but that is not our goal. Instead, choose a "corral" style trap, which will enable you to catch sev- eral hogs each time the trap is triggered. Also, because corral traps do not have a top or roof, non-target animals that may get inadvertently trapped can escape without harm. Second, do your home- work. Pick a trapping loca- tion that has plenty of evi- dence that hogs routinely visit the area. Then, start the baiting process. Use a trail camera so you can determine how many hogs are routinely visiting the site and consum- ing the bait. Third, construct the trap. Now you just have to con- vince the hogs to enter the corral to consume the bait, which may take several days. Here's where your trail-cam- era information becomes critically important. Don't set the trap or engage the triggered trap door until you have photographic evidence that all the hogs are enter- ing and feeding in the trap. When you determine that all the hogs feel secure entering the trap, it's time to set the trap door trigger and wait for a successful catch. Cellular technology is making this process even more efficient by allowing you to install a camera at the hogs demolish have not yet at will send pho- been planted, and the .P.f graphs to your cell phone. vorite nat -(urring What's even cooler is you can send a signal back to the camera and tell it to close the trap door! This technol- ogy improves trapping effi- ciency because you will never drop the trap door on a non- target animal, and you can !/i?iii i  i/ii I : wait until all the hogs have entered the trap before you send the command to drop the door. Of course, this tech: nology will cost more, so you will have to determine if this newer technology is right for your situation. But there's no doubt about it- it is effective. Unfortunately for our farms, forests and wildlife, we are in for a long fight if we are to control wild hogs and keep them from spread- ing - but it's a battle worth fighting. For more informa- tion about wild hogs and how to control this invasive pest, please visit our MSU Ex- tension website http'JAvww. WildPigInfo.com. The Unmatched Cgurage 0[ a Soldier. The Mtlmate hcr$ce of a Town. The IInparalleled Vision o[ a WorkIorce. Mississippi. A Legendary Force for Freedom. One Mississippian : Lawrence "Rabbit" Kennedy - who served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, remains one of the most decorated U.S. soldiers in history. One small town in Mississippi - D'Lo - sent proportionally more men to serve in World War II than any other town in the country.., which was literally every eligible man in town. And for over 60 years, one Mississippi workforce - Northrop Grumman Ship Systems - has helped bring freedom to those who seek her elusive grasp the world over. One man. One town. One workforce, One state. Mississippi - dedicated to freedom. You better believe it. www.mississiibdieveit.com ooo J