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WHAT ARE CHUFAS?
The word and how it got here:
chufa (choo' fa) n. A sedge, native to the Old World, having edible, nut like tubers. [Spanish, fluff, nonsense, from Old Spanish, from chufar, chuflar, to hiss at, laugh at, from Vulgar Latin sufilare (unattested), variant of Latin sibilare, to whistle at, hiss down].
How we say it:
Chufa is a Spanish word meaning ground almond, "chufa", has 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 nut 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 planted for hogs. In the last 50 years it has been realized that chufas are an excellent winter food source for wild turkeys. The tubers contain protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and lots of oil and fiber.
Their status today:
In the United States today the primary use of chufas as a crop is to attract and feed wild game, particularly wild turkeys. Wild turkey population in the U.S. has escalated in recent years through conservation practices of The Wild Turkey Federation and other organizations who grew to love money too much. Although there are ecologically sound and sentimentally vague reasons for improving wild turkey habitat and providing them with food, probably the main reason, unpopular as it may sound to many patriots, some of whom think the wild turkey should be our national symbol rather than the bald eagle, is that this ground running, low-flying, sharp-sighted, fleet and wily bird is the most challenging game bird in the U.S. to hunt and kill for sport and Thanksgiving dinner. What better reason, the avid turkey hunter asks, to do as much as possible to increase their population? And in fact, because of the efforts of all of those people in love with the wild turkey, for whatever reason--ecological, sentimental, hunting thrill, or taste--the wild turkey population is soaring. In spite of a growing number of hunters, with their camouflage gear and blackened faces, armed with bows and arrows, rifles, bolos, boomerangs, slingshots and shotguns, this increase in wild turkey population is to a great extent quite simple. There's an easy-to grow, winter preserved, primitive sedge plant that will, much like peanuts, produce handfuls of tasty, nutritious nuggets from the planting of a single tuber. Turkeys love chufa tubers. As natural scratchers, once discovering a plot of chufa, they will return again and again, all winter long, or until spring arrives with its plethora of easier-to-grab food. Not to say that other critters don't love this high-protein, 30% oil content, vitamin-rich, highly concentrated food. In years gone by, chufa tubers were planted late in the season --late spring to mid-summer--so that pigs could be turned into the fields to fatten and improve the taste of pork. Deer paw them up, and raccoons dig them up. Ducks dive for them when wetland fields are flooded. If you plan to grow chufa to attract and feed your turkey flocks, grow enough for all the other critters, too. In Spain, a lovely milky elixir is served in health spas, pubs, and restaurants; a refreshing beverage that will remind you of coconut and pineapple--made from the lowly chufa.
Suggested Planting Instructions
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 raccoons, squirrels, crows, skunks, deer or any combination thereof. Deer and squirrels will eat the tubers if they are exposed. Raccoons, crows and 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 50% being chufas, the remainder in winter grains and clovers. When your acreage decision is made, order one bushel of chufa seed (40 lbs.) per acre.
Planting time must allow 90-100 days of frost free growing time.
Plant chufas in Northwest Florida from April to early August. Earlier plantings seem to produce 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 choice...except in the years when Mother Nature dictates when to plant...pretty much every year, lately.
"New" land is best (fewer weeds), but Treflan, (follow directions for peanuts or soybeans) either granular or liquid, and 2-4DB 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 will grow in the hardest clay. Hint: add some gypsum to soften the clay to keethe turkeys from wearing out their toenails.
In November when your chufa tops have died down, turn over a few clumps for your first time turkeys to find, or disk 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, test it for flavor and notify the next of kin; with the end result looking like a Vietnam mortar attack. This is the look you're paying for.
Chufas may be broadcast at a rate of 40 lbs. per acre on a prepared and fertilized seedbed.
Spread 200 to 500 lbs./acre of 13-13-13 on the disked plot.
Broadcast the chufas 2 to 4 seeds per square foot.
Set disk to cut 4 inches deep. This will cover seeds 2 inches.
When the plants are 6 to 12 inches high (approx. 1 month) top dress with 100 lb/acre of actual nitrogen (300 lbs. per acre of ammonium nitrate.
One plant per square foot will provide maximum yield. Chufas can be made to regenerate for 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 older ones is best if enough land is available.
We use peanut plates and plant 1 1/2 inches deein 30" or 36" rows with seed spacing 4 1/2 to 5 inches in the row.
We suggest 200 to 500 lbs. of 13-13-13 per acre depending on the fertility level of your soil.
When plants are between 6 to 12 inches high, side dress with 300 lbs. of ammonium nitrate per acre, which equals 100lb/acre of actual nitrogen.
Suggested chemicals to use for weed control. Follow directions for peanuts and soybeans very, very, very carefully.Be aware of the OSHA police.
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