OK: Waterfowl visiting Lake Eufaula to benefit from millet planting
Thanks to a donation from the Oklahoma Waterfowlers Association, hundreds of acres of exposed shoreline on Lake Eufaula have been planted with Japanese millet seed to attract and benefit waterfowl this fall and winter.
Along with providing the donation of 5,400 pounds of millet seed to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Waterfowlers Association members donated time to assist with the plantings efforts. The Wildlife Department's millet seeding program on Eufaula has included three separate seedings this year, each at a different elevation zone and timed to take advantage of falling lake levels related to unseasonably hot weather.
"Although the millet program is often a ‘boom or bust' practice, if successful it has been proven to have a tremendous positive effect by providing a supplemental food base for thousands of waterfowl and migratory birds traveling through our state," said Alan Stacey, wetland habitat biologist for the Wildlife Department.
Due to fairly stable lake conditions earlier this spring, desirable natural foods have become established at Lake Eufaula above the "normal pool" lake zone, making this the first time in over six years that food resources of any significant quantity have become established on the lake. On the other hand, recent record temperatures combined with power generation needs have lowered lake levels and created conditions conducive to the growth of undesirable vegetation as well.
Conditions like record heat and rapidly-dropping lake levels can create a recipe on exposed mudflats for quick germination of plants that provide little to no fall or winter food value for migratory birds. At Lake Eufaula, these plants typically include sesbania and cocklebur.
"The millet seeding program is designed to ‘compete' with undesirable vegetation and help compliment desirable natural food resources already established earlier this spring at higher lake elevations," Stacey said.
The Wildlife Department normally overseeds exposed mudflats and shoreline areas of the lake aerially by plane since those areas are inaccessible by tractor. If timed right and applied correctly, millet plants can actually dominate mudflats, provided they have a chance to germinate ahead of undesirable plants. Japanese millet, a somewhat "water tolerant" and rapidly maturing variety of millet, can produce an abundance of seed highly sought after by waterfowl and other migratory birds.
Seeding operations by the Wildlife Department also were implemented this year on Texoma, Oologah and Kaw reservoirs, and the Wildlife Department works closely with U.S. Army Corp of Engineer hydrologists to monitor lake levels and growing millet stands. For information about waterfowl and waterfowl hunting in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department's website at wildlifedepartment.com.