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I. Know Your Turkey's Needs.
The wild turkey is our most challenging and beautiful gamebird.
Native to many of the 50 states and introduced to others it is now
necesary for us to become aware of the wild turkeys' needs in order
to offset the loss of habitat caused by increased population and
mechanized agriculture. The turkey stands 3 feet tall, grows to twenty
pounds or more, and reflects every color in the rainbow in early morning
light. He is as tasty as he is cagey, as wise as he is beautiful, and
as hard to get close to as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
He has needs just like every other creature, and if we can meet his needs
we can continue to hunt turkeys and teach our kids to love them too.
Turkeys eat a wide range of foods including insects, seeds, grasses,
berries, legumes, acorns, beechnuts, chinkapins, dogwood berries, corn,
hickory nuts, oats, wheat, cowpeas, sorghums, soybeans, bahiagrass,
lespedeza, barley, and chufas. In order to increase population we must
produce more food in open clearings within the turkey's habitat.
Turkeys sometimes require drinking water, although morning dew and
the moisture of succulent vegetation takes care of most of their water
needs. In the arid parts of the turkey's range, however, shortage of
drinking water is an important limiting factor because succulent
vegetation is not abundant.
Turkeys will drink from windmill fed ponds or tanks if there is very
little human traffic. The third major requirement for turkey habitat is
lots of cover and roosting trees. A wild flock of turkeys will often
range over 5,000 to 12,000 acres. If we provide improved food, good
water, and cover, and roosting trees we may be able to keep a flock on
500 to 2,000 acres. Oak and mixed forests with tall oaks provide food
and roost for turkeys.
|II. Meeting Those Needs.
In meeting the turkeys' needs we find ourselves in the protection
business. We shall endeavor to protect against: (1) WATER SHORTAGE
(2) PREDATION BY ANIMAL OR MAN (3) FOOD SHORTAGE
Water supply is unique to every operation, but be aware that if
water is unavailable in severe drought, the flock will leave.
Protection from predators may include fencing out livestock.
Cows and hogs might compete for food sources, (hogs with acorns and
chufas) or destroy habitat, (cows love bahiagrass, and winter grains).
Domestic poultry or poultry manure should be kept from the turkey range
to prevent disease. Raccoons, skunks, and crows prey on turkey eggs.
Free running dogs may move "your" turkeys into the next county. Poachers,
of course, must be controlled or your efforts will be disapointing.
Protection from food shortage is sometimes posible by controlled burning
of undergrowth every third year. This may be done in January or February
(never during the spring nesting season). Lush new growth and a new insect
population will increase the food supply for turkeys and for quail.
Proper forest management is helpful in providing for turkeys. If
possible, stop all logging during the spring nesting season. When clearing
land for harvesting timber leave wild cherry, dogwood, beechwood, oaks,
chinkapins, palmettos, hickory trees, and some blackberry bushes for
food sources. However, to greatly increase the carying capacity of the
land we must plant food plots. These wildlife openings can be the
difference between success and failure in "holding turkeys" on or near
your land. And we believe WILKERSON WIL-GRO CHUAS are the best food crop.
|III. What Is A CHUFA?
It is a Spanish word meaning ground almond.
Ceperus esculentus, var.sativus, chufa, has also been called earth
almond, groundnut, tigernut, duck potato, and edible rush. We know
it to be a tuber that grows underground on the fibrous roots of a
nutsedge plant. These chufa tubers are used for seed to propagate
chufas, For many years chufas have been cultivated for food and drink
for men and hogs. In the last 30 years it has been realized that chufas
are an excellant winter food source for wild turkeys. The tubers
contain protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and lots of oil and fiber.
Chufas have been called the turkeys' ice cream plant!
|IV. How Do I Grow CHUFAS?
Chufas are easy to grow and require almost the same care as corn.
We suggest that chufa plots be no less than 1 acre in size and preferably
2 to 5 acres each. Smaller plots are possible under some conditions. Very
small plots may be damaged or destroyed by coons, squirrels, crows, skunks,
deer. Deer and squirrels will eat the tubers if they are exposed. Raccoons,
crows, skunks will dig up young plants to eat the tubers. Plant plenty for
them all or check your state trapping laws for predator control.
To maintain healthy turkey flocks and deer herds we suggest you plant 5%
(5 acres per 100) of the total woodlands in food plots with 40% to one-half
being chufas, the remainder in winter grains and clovers.
When your acreage decision is made, order one bushel of chufa seeds (40 lbs.)
per acre. Brooks Hollemon recommends treating all seed with with STANLEY CRO-CHEX
before planting. This asphalt based compound keeps critters from digging
up your seed for food. Tehre are several different repellants on the market of
this nature, and they do pretty much the same job. Planting time must allow
90 to 100 days of frostfree growing time.
We plant chufas in northwest Florida from April to early August.
Earlier plantings seem to favor higher yields but require more cultivation or
chemical herbicide protection. Later plantings tend to last longer into the next
winter, which is what this is all about. You make the choce. (Some years,
the weather will make it for you!)
"New" land is best, but Treflan; either granular or liquid, and 2-4d should
allow you to control weeds even in old fields or other places where weeds
are a problem. (Be sure to read the label on the herbicide container and follow
instructions. YOU COULD KILL YOUR CHUFAS!!!) Chufas do best in sandy loam soils,
but they will grow in hardest clay (add some gypsum to loosen it) or sandy soils.
"BROADCAST" PLANTING....Chufas may be broadcast at 40 lbs/per acre on a
prepared and fertilized seedbed, (200-500 pounds per acre of 13-13-13) and disked
in to a seed depth of 1-1/2 to 2 inches. Set disk twice as deep as desired seed
depth. You may then topdress with ammonium nitrate at 6" to 12" plant height.
Chufas can be made to regenerate several years by applying fertilizer and disking
each spring. We know of one case where a good stand has persisted for 7 years
using this technique. The limit is usually 2 to 3 years. A rotation plan of planting
new plots each year and renovating old ones is best if enough land is available.
"ROW" PLANTING....We suggest you use peanut plates and plant 1-1/2" deep in
30" or 36" rows, and seed spaced 4-1/2" to 5" in the row. At planting time we suggest
200 to 500 pounds of 13-13-13 per acre depending on the fertility level of your soil.
Side dress at 6" to 12" plant height with 100 to 200 pounds per acre of ammonium nitrate.
In November when your chufa tops have died down, turn over a few clumps for your
turkeys to find or disk up the edges of your plot so that they can begin to enjoy their
winter food. After they have located the plot, they will scratch it up!
|V. Farming For Turkeys Even If You Aren't A Farmer
Turkeys today are found in State and Federal forests, game preserves,
commercial timberlands, and on private woodlands. Most turkey habitat
in the Southeastern United States is in private holdings. No matter
where the turkeys are, we should try to improve the carying capacity
of the land with food management plantings. As farmers and hunters we
can work toward improved turkey populations together. Clearing and
planting a chufa plot around a pond or creek might serve to feed
turkeys a year or two and start a wildlife opening in the woods that
could be alternatley planted to quail or deer food, such as browntop
millet or clover. Planted pines can become a "wildlife desert" if we
don't plant some chufas around the borders and some quail food in the
roads and openings. Fence rows that are "ROUNDUP CLEAN" are not able to
produce wildlife! Let's leave them bushy and maybe even plant a few rows
chufas on the edges and in the corners next to the woods. If we expect
turkeys to cross woven-wire fences we must put up poles for them to
jump on or they will not go over. Tie poles to top strands of the fence.
Power line right of ways can be used to grow tons of chufas for turkeys.
Logging roads or cleared strips of land can grow chufas if they receive
4 to 5 hours a day of direct sunlight.
The most important thing we can do to start is to educate the farmer
about turkeys. Give him a copy of this section, or all sections of the chufa
information on this site, or send him to this site on the web. Show him a copy
of Turkey Call magazine or your state's wildlife magazine. Why not even
encourage him to join the National Wild Turkey Federation? Go tell him he is
in a place where he can help turkeys and tell him you want to work with him.
As a turkey hunter you have often gotten some good advice: "DON'T MISS." Well
"DON'T MISS" with your farmer friends either. Three misses have hurt
farmer/hunter relationships and we can prevent them if we try.
(1) MISS UNDERSTANDING-- Don't let that farmer think that you are a
clod who only wants to get something for nothing and kill all his turkeys and
then laugh behind his back. That may have happened to him before. There are
hunters like that and they have helped to bring about those "No Tresspassing"
signs we see all too often. Begin building a friendship by offering to help
him to grow turkeys.
(2) MISS MANAGEMENT-- Ask your farmer friend how he wants you to use the
equipment you have. A fourwheel drive truck can start a gully that washes away
tons of topsoil if it is "MISMANAGED". Hear what he has to say about litter
and noise management, too. Your habits may be sins to him, and we want to
help provide for turkeys.
(3) MISS BEHAVIOR-- A farmer's land is his living and is much a part of
his life as his fireplace or dining table. We owe to him the respect of doing as
HE would do when we are there. If we can do that, the turkeys, and the hunters,
and will be better for it.
Perhaps your hunting club can lease some acres for game food plots. You
might provide chufa seed and fertilizer and help tend the plantings. Perhaps
you can help him with some land clearing for wildlife openings or a pond dam.
Maybe you can hunt on his land and pay a hunting fee for the privilege. Or
you might still find a farmer who would only like a mess of quail now and then
or a couple of rabbits when you kill some. He might even tell you to "just
stop and let me see that turkey on your way out".
When it comes time to do the actual planting of the game food plot you
may also enlist the help of the Boy Scouts, or 4-H, or The FFA. All of them
have game food plot projects (or might like to) and might love to get
involved and bust down some generation gaps and city/country barriers.
When your chufas are half gone, and your spring gobbler season is in,
please remember not to kill more than 1/3 of your fall flock population.
That means you get to go out and count them in the fall.
|VI. Chufas And Other Animals.
Many people especially for deer, ducks, dove, and quail. In order
for deer to learn that food is underground, one should turn over a few
bunches of chufas during the growing season, after the plants have started
to produce tubers. The deer will find these tubers and learn to dig for them
by winter. Ponds or impoundments that can be drained in sumer, planted
in chufas and flooded in winter make excellant duck habitat.
Smaller birds like dove and quail cannot eat the bigger chufa tubers
if the plant had adequate moisture during the growing season, but they
can handle the smaller tubers.
Chufas are planted especially for dove in areas that have high
populations of hogs, either wild or domestic (which can be turned in on
the chufa patch).
|VII. Chufa And Turkeys In Your Home.
When the cold winter winds are blowing and you are betwen seasons and
need something to do, come back to this site and read it again. There
are probably a few things you haven't memorized and your tongue and your
wife are tired of you practicing with that mouth turkey call anyway. So
read this and plan your work and then work your plan.
Take that handful of chufas you saved just for that next person who said,
"What's a Chufa?" and eat one. Wow - that thing was good, wasn't it?.
Taste sort of like coconut, but kind of sweet. Now you see why turkeys like them and you might just want to plant a few in the garden to
have some around to nibble on and share. You already know how to grow them so we waon't go into that again.
Did you know you could make a bread out of chufas?
Grind them very fine in a blender and substitute for half the flour in any bread recipe.
You'll have fresh home made Chufa bread to eat with your next wild turkey.
You may gather and save your own seed by making a square or rectangular box of 2x4's
and put 1/4" hardware cloth on the bottom.Pull up your chufas and rub them on the screen to get the dirt off.
Sun dry your tubers to 12% moisture (wrinkled a little but still chewy) and store them
in a cool root cellar or refrigerator.
Three weeks under the wood cookstove, stirred daily, will dry them if it's rainy weather.
Store them away from mice, children, and Blue Jays until used.
Some folks presure cook them at 15lbs for 30 minutes and add a little salt.
Years back (and maybe soon again) folks planted an acre each year to fatten their hogs on.
It makes tasty pork but the lard doesn't harden. (This is a result of the unsaturated fat characteristic of Chufas.)
Some folks have said that their wild turkeys are darker, drier, and stringier than tame turkeys at the dinner table.
Feed them lots of chufas and harvest the tastiest birds the woods have ever made!!
|Some Chufa Recipes
Harvest the tubers at any time the ground is not frozen and it is easiest to collect from sandy soil which allows you to pull them up easily
and also allows the plant to produce numerous tubers. Clay soil tends to compact the roots and vastly reduce tuber production.
The tubers are great raw with a slightly almond-nutty flavor that I like in fresh salads.
You can also eat them boiled, candied dried and ground into a flour or as a coffee substitute.
For flour slowly dry the tubers until you can break them apart with your hands then grind or hammer lightly and process in a blender.
Use this flour half and half with regular flour in any recipe.
Chufa tubers are used as a beverage base for a Spanish drink called Horchata that is also made with rice.
Chufa has been used as a coffee substitute after roasting the tubers until dark brown and blending with other coffee buddies, chicory and cleavers.
Alone they have a taste that is not unpleasant but resembles nothing to coffee so blending it with other coffees works best.
soak the Chufa tubers for 2 days in water and drain.
Put equal parts tubers, sugar and water in a sauce pan and simmer until the tubers are tender and clear looking.
Drain off syrup and let the tubers dry for one day then roll in sugar and store in the refrigerator until eaten.
Kids seem to love these little nibbles immensely.
1 Cup Chufa flour
1 Cup Flour
3 t Baking powder
1/4 t Salt
|The above information was taken from an old flyer written and distributed by
Glendale Enterprises, in Glendale, Florida
The utmost care is taken during the growing, harvesting, drying, cleaning, and storage of these chufas to ensure
the highest possibe germination and viability
Stop by and visit with the Wilkersons and ask them about their
Wilkerson Wil-Gro Chufas"