Throughout my career as MRP coordinator I have come across a large number of cooperators that still have not tried to plant chufa in their impoundments. This astonishes me as we plant 25 to 35 acres of it each year here at the Wetland Wildlife Center in Pinewood and everyone around the area plants it as well. Chufa is in my opinion the best and most versatile food for waterfowl period. It can be planted shallow, deep and everywhere in-between. It attracts diving ducks and puddle ducks and after the season is over you can drain your pond and use the leftover chufa to attract turkeys.
Why don’t more people plant chufa? It’s simple, most people are not familiar with chufa and therefore don’t try to grow it. Corn is something everyone is familiar with. It’s easy to plant, relatively easy to grow and it’s something that you can watch mature. The problem with corn however is that once it gets above a foot and a half tall it become almost impossible to spray unless you have a high-boy sprayer. Anyone with a duck impoundment knows this is the time in which much of the undesired vegetation becomes prevalent. Many times the worst culprit of them all is Hemp Sesbania. This tall plant grows in moist soil and usually does not begin to emerge until late in the year after the corn has reached 2 to 3 feet in height. It can grow 6 to 8 feet tall and take over a duck pond in just a few years if not treated. Coffee weed is also another undesired species that can take over in a short amount of time. By planting chufa you can eliminate both of these weeds from your duck pond. As many of you know Round Up is relatively useless against either Sesbania or Coffee weed. In order to control these weeds you need to spray them with 2-4-D-B. 2-4-D-B is a broad-leaf herbicide that will kill corn but not chufa since it is a grass. If you have a problem with panic grass or other type of grass in your impoundment you can spray chufa with Poast which is a grass herbicide that doesn’t affect the chufa. These two herbicides make chufa an easy crop to keep clean.
Growing chufa is also easy. It doesn’t take any applications of nitrogen like corn and once you plant it you really don’t have to add any additional fertilizers. One of the keys to growing good chufa is to have the Ph of the soil between 5.0 and 7.0. Also, you may have put down an insecticide such as Lorsban because chufa will sometimes get bugs that will eat the nuts. One of the biggest drawbacks to chufa however, is that it is somewhat expensive to plant. A 50 lb bag of chufa will run about $110 and will plant about 2 acres. If you broadcast it, it will only plant a little over an acre. This seems expensive but when you really think about it a bag of seed corn will run you over a $100, especially for a low ear placement variety.
My experiences with chufa have been nothing but positive. If you want to get more ring necks on your property, try to flood the chufa at 2 ½ to 3 feet deep and I guarantee you will get more diving ducks in your pond. Diving ducks would rather land in open water than in corn and since they are used to diving for their food they prefer to have to dive for the chufa than eat corn. I personally hunted an impoundment this year that had 13 acres of chufa planted and there were 2,000+ ring necks and scaup on it. They were there for over a month and we hunted at least 8 people once or twice a week and they would never leave. Mallards and other puddle ducks love it also. We release over 2,000 mallards a year here at the Wetland Wildlife Center and every year they eat the chufa before they eat the corn. I’m not saying that they eat the chufa until it’s gone and then eat the corn but a majority of the mallards that I see will be in the chufa rather than the corn. One of the small drawbacks to chufa is that it doesn’t produce as much crop per acre as corn. Chufa only produces about ¾ as much food per acre as corn but most people don’t have enough ducks in their pond to worry about running out of food. I’ve always said that if you run out of food in your impoundment then you did your job and probably had more ducks then you ever hoped for.
Over the past few years I have been recommending to people that they get their chufa from Cyprus Knee Chufa in Conway, North Carolina. Mr. Donny Lassiter is the owner and operator who has been supplying chufa to waterfowl and turkey enthusiasts for many years. We have used his chufa for the past several years and have had wonderful results. Most chufa brands come from Spain but Mr. Lassiter grows his right here in the United States. It also grows better than the Spanish brands because it is acclimated to the southern climate. The amount of seed needed per acre is also less than Spanish brands so it is cheaper than other chufa brands. The seed is available in 10, 25 and 50 lb bags.
Along with providing a high quality seed that is grown locally in the Carolinas, Cyprus Knee Chufa also provides excellent service to all of it’s customers after the sale. Donny and the folks at Cyprus Knee Chufa take pride in their product and want to make sure that you are satisfied with the result. They will make themselves available to answer any questions that you may have and help you handle any problems that you may encounter with establishing your chufa crop.
Attracting ducks to your property is always a challenge. Planting the right crops is a critical component in waterfowl management. I strongly encourage people to try chufa. It will outperform millet and allow you to rotate your crops more effectively. If you would like to try to incorporate chufa into your planting scheme this spring, give Mr. Lassiter at Cyprus Knee Chufa a call. They will help you get the seed and information you need to be successful. Click Donny's logo below to be taken to his website or you can reach Donny Lassiter at (252) 539-4434.
Chufa...Catnip for Waterfowl?
by Lead Waterfowl Biologist Stuart Cochran
Should you have any questions about Chufa please contact:
Stuart Cochran - Lead Waterfowl Biologist - SCWA
Office: 803-452-6001 ext. 103
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