Waterfowl foods and use in managed grain sorghum and other habitats in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Wiseman, Alicia Joy
Grain sorghum provides energy-rich seeds for waterfowl. I conducted experiments in 22 sorghum fields in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana during falls 2006 – 2007 to evaluate abundance of ratoon grain (i.e., second crop after harvest), waste grain, and natural seeds. I also conducted surveys of wintering waterfowl in flooded croplands and moist-soil wetlands to evaluate if ducks and geese differentially used habitats. Fertilized plots in 2007 produced >4 times more ratoon grain (x = 219.57 ± 39.65 [SE] kg/ha) than other treatments. Fertilized plots in southern regions of my study area produced ~5 times more ratoon grain (x = 262.93 ± 50.28 kg/ha) than others. Mallards and other ducks used moist-soil wetlands (x >65 ducks/ha) more than other habitats. I did not observe geese using flooded sorghum. I recommend not manipulating sorghum stubble after harvest, fertilizing, and flooding it after ratoon grain has matured, and integrating moist-soil wetlands into agricultural lands.