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First Fruits of the Season

Jun 28, 2013

Across the countryside the different stages of cultivated crops create a living patchwork. Wheat is being harvested. In other fields the remaining stubble is being burned. Some fields lay bare and brown from our latest soaking and must dry out before the planting process resumes. In other locales soybeans are up to your boots, while the corn varies, but can measure thigh high. A few early fields are lucky enough to be towering and tasseling already. As I walk around Duck Creek I can see a different kind of multi-cropping system at work.

In Full Bloom

In April, the willows were blooming and the curly dock had emerged from the shallowly flooded marsh. Today the withered stalks of curly dock, lined with umbels of dark red-brown seeds, contrast with the bright green growth of the sedges and grasses rising up from the damp mud. Common plantain has been on surging below the willows around Blind 8 and finished flowering last week. Its smaller cousin, mud plantain, is currently underway displaying its delicate white petals on the water’s surface. They give way from their stems as my sloshing boots disrupt the still pools on the west side of the area. New growth of pickerelweed and thalia from last year’s plantings are spreading out across the restored sloughs. Here too blossoms and ripening seeds can be seen amid the steady hum of bumblebees. Along the edges of Pools 2 and 3, the white spikey spheres of buttonbush can be seen in full bloom as evidence of another plant peaking at the end of June.

On the Rise

The golden seed heads of the cool season Reed Canary grass are the most visible mature grass at this point in the season. Scattered about the narrow inflorescence of sprangletop are beginning to head out. Additionally, a few millet seed heads are early arrivals amongst the sea of green. It is the emerald backdrop that should be examined. Ranging from a few inches tall to boot height, a variety of sedges, smartweed, grasses, and bidens are staging to rise up in the following months. As the summer progresses, the rich green will become intermixed with new hues of burgundy, white, and yellow, marking the ripening of additional crop of foods.

Continued Growth

As the growing season endures these plants will begin to wane and yet another crop will emerge. The precipitation from stalled hurricanes can stimulate a late cohort of toothcup, sprangletop, and millet prior to teal season. Although our sights are often set on the byproducts of the growing season as waterfowl season sets in, the total amount of food in seeds, tubers, and just plain old vegetative manner produced during the summer can be quite impressive all on its own. Granted, the sight I’ve described doesn’t mirror the straight field rows seen along the highway; however, this overlapping succession of growth is another approach to integrated cropping systems that has fed our migratory waterfowl and for thousands of years.

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Buttonbush Flower
Buttonbush Flower
Buttonbush flowers are visited by a variety of insects. After it flowers, the ball of seeds are preferred by many wildlife, including Canada Geese

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Seeds of Curly Dock
Seeds of Curly Dock
Curly dock emerges early in the spring from shallowly flooded wetlands. Its heart-shaped seeds are high in fiber.

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Emerging Moist Soil
Emerging Moist Soil
The flooding and drying of wetlands promote the growth of annual plants that germinate on mud flats and later provide valuable food for waterfowl.

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Pickerelweed Flower
Pickerelweed Flower
Pickerelweed is one of the many wetland plants that pollinators visit through the growing season.

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Marsh Flatsedge
Marsh Flatsedge
Sedges are a group of wetland plants. The Marsh Flatsedge is only found in the southern half of the state and has very unique seeds or achenes.

Comments

can you check on those nice jug fisherman at night too ? it's too bad most of us obey the guidelines and laws but others feel if they can do it at night while nobody's watching.

Jug fishing is not allowed on Duck Creek.  As for the lillies, I don't think they have been sprayed yet, but I'll have to check on that.

Can you tell us why you cannot put two culverts along the road to the old parking lot at the former blinds 41 and 43 now known as field 53? Seems that would be the easiest and cheapest way to fix the access to those TWO former hunting areas. That was a great job done fixing the spillway near the old blind 8 parking lot. Lets hope mother nature leaves it alone for awhile!

is jug fishing allowed on duck creek? while motoring along the south levy very early sunday morning (just before daylight) i had the enjoyment of dodging somebody's catfish jugs. did you spray the lilypads recently? it appears they are turning brown finally. thank you for everything you all do at duck creek !!!!!

It saddens me to inform Frank that THERE IS NO BLIND 8 ANYMORE. It was destroyed and no plans are in the works to replace it.

Glad to see a good crop of seeds for the birds to return to this winter for fuel to make their trip back home...

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