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The BioLogic Story, Twenty Years of Growing Great Plots and Big Bucks

In 1998, Mossy Oak brand camo creator, Toxey Haas, wanted to improve his deer herd. He dreamed of a hunting property holding lots of mature bucks that were expressing their full genetic potential. Understanding that nutrition plays a key role in body and antler development, he worked closely with a leading biologist, Dr. Grant Woods, to further understand the role of nutrition and how it impacts a herd. This led to the development of the very first Mossy Oak BioLogic blends.

Those blends were tested in many regions of the country but none more stringently than in the state of Alabama. There was research on planting rates, depths, timing, but most importantly planting a variety of new cultivars to see deer preference. Toxey’s close group was the first to seriously plant brassicas as a primary deer forage and what was learned along the way has created the BioLogic business and greatly impacted the food plot industry.

BioLogic’s seed partner then and still today, Wrightson Nutrition, at the time was a 100 plus year-old New Zealand seed company that was rooted in forage research and cultivar development. They are the world’s leader in forage research and at that time had been developing cultivars for the deer farming business for 25 years. Deer Farming is a huge industry in New Zealand, in fact it only falls second to the tourism industry of New Zealand. The goals of NZ deer farmer are remarkably like an Alabama deer hunter. They both wanted to grow a big-bodied, heavy-antlered bucks. So Wrightson was thrilled that this new company called BioLogic wanted to test their products on the whitetail deer of the United States.

The plants selected ended up being about 12 cultivars out of hundreds. The very best of the best. These few had the characteristics of growth, palatability, leaf to stem ratios, (leaves being digestible and stems not so much) durable and in some cases even bug resistant. These plants were a deer biologist’s dream, and across the test sites the results were impressive. It was also obvious that in high deer densities, the plants were selected first, in lower densities sometimes there was a learning curve, however generally by January the deer had learned to eat the plants.

The group quickly learned that all brassicas, clovers and chicories weren’t equal in the eyes of a whitetail. Some plants just tasted better to the deer and there was an obvious draw to the most nutritious plants. Nature has an amazing way of taking care of itself.

Blends became a focus for the group early on as a blend of different seeds that worked together helped ensure success for a food plot planter. Growing conditions constantly varied, and by planting a blend, something was sure to grow. Most often everything did, but a wet month or a dry month wouldn’t spell disaster for the plot. The blends were also designed to perform best at certain times of the season or the entire season. Green Patch Plus works from germination until the spring warm up where Maximum seems to be stronger mid and into the late season when groceries are getting thinner. A smart thinking food plotter can strategically have plots located on his hunting property that will attract at different times during the season and these guys know which plots to key in on and when.

Through the years, fall-planted blends like Green Patch Plus, Full Draw, Maximum and Clover Plus have become mainstays in the BioLogic lineup. Brassica’s still dominate the blends BioLogic use, there is even a brassica leaf in the company’s logo, and however one of the most impressive plantings BioLogic offers is its exclusive Non-Typical Clover. It’s a white ladino that has huge leaves, grows low to the ground and flowers later than most clovers allowing 4-8 weeks extra weeks of nutritious browse while antlergenesis is occurring. If you haven’t tried it, you need to plant some this fall. It is an amazing clover that is loved by whitetails and wild turkeys.

Specialty seed blends were also designed, like Deer Radish, Winter Peas, Blind Spot and the ever popular Hot Spot that was built for hunters that didn’t have access to a tractor or tillage equipment. All that’s needed is a rake or a leaf blower to get the leaf matter out of the way. In Alabama you toss the seed out in late September/October adding a 50 pound bag of fertilizer and you can expect a green attractive plot that will attract deer. Hunters have learned to plant these back in the woods in old log landings or other small openings near bedding areas and are having great success.

Education soon become a focus for the newly formed company and television was the easiest method to communicate to the masses. BioLogic was fortunate to have Mossy Oak as a big brother and the camo giant helped tell the story about how to grow great groceries for your wildlife. Not only deer, but wild turkeys, waterfowl and upland birds benefited greatly from managed food plots specifically for wildlife.

Quickly it was determined that “How to manage these plots” was where education was needed. Most food plotters didn’t understand that they probably needed to lime and fertilize their plots for optimal results. Typically, one to several thousand pounds of lime was needed per acre and, of course, per a proper soil test will advise a fertilizer recommendation. This was a challenge to explain to people. It turns out, the seed is the cheapest part of the whole equation. A food plot can turn a property around and if done correctly can nourish a deer herd like nothing else. With today’s fears of CWD, spreading deer out in fields to feed makes sense and is seemingly approved unilaterally by biologists as it mimics natural feeding behavior. So, gamekeepers have learned the value of a good food plot.

With the help of AFC’s own James Fudge, BioLogic created pHFertilizer and it’s now produced by an AFC’s Crop Nutrient division. Charles Grant has been a huge help in manufacturing this product. It’s a basic 8-8-8 fertilizer with pelletized lime added as the filler. So, all the food plots that were across the creek or hard to get a lime truck to, could now have fertilizer and lime added at the same time. It’s designed to be just enough lime to spike the pH for a few months, which is basically the life of an annual food plot and help it perform. It’s available at the AFC stores, just ask for it, BioLogic pHFertilizer.

In 2005, AFC’s Al Cheatham and the late Roger Pangle approached Toxey about possibly working BioLogic into an AFC/Haas joint LLC that they could help manage in hopes of creating opportunities at the store level. The companies had already been working closely, in fact, AFC in Decatur was the first sales call that BioLogic made and AFC actually sold the first wholesale bags of BioLogic to its store in Selma, Alabama. Bill Carroll was the buyer then and he and Bobby Cole worked out the details at a BBQ joint. AFC Decatur has been a great partner to BioLogic through the years and the partnership has yet to realize all the opportunities that exist.

Today AFC COO Al Cheatham and Management Services Director James Fudge still help where they can. Rivers Myers, Alabama Farmers Cooperative CEO, has been nothing but supportive, as well as the retired legendary CEO Tommy Paulk.

Mossy Oak has strived to honor the relationship with Toxey Haas and Mossy Oak President Bill Sugg always respecting the business and working to create solutions. Bobby Cole and Jacob Womack both work the AFC stores together and do whatever is necessary to help the stores through the system.

Each AFC store has access to the entire BioLogic catalog. If there is anything you want, just ask and they can get it in a matter of days. Today, BioLogic has approximately 24 deer blends, 19 fall and 5 spring and summer planted. There are now blends for waterfowl, wild turkey and upland birds (partridges as Mr. Paulk would say). There is a granular product pHFertilizer and a water-soluble fertilizer called MEEN Green that work wonders to green up a food plot.

BioLogic is a respected leader in wildlife management and food plots, its magazine and television show “Gamekeepers” efforts to shine a light on how to manage your property and get the most out of a life outdoors. Its social media pages @mossyoakbiologic and @mossyoakgamekeepers have a vibrant following of people who want to learn about wildlife.

Mossy Oak BioLogic can be found in a variety of stores these days, but there is one store system that the team always works just a little harder to try and take care of, because---its family.

Survey: U.S. beekeepers report record rate of colo

Beekeepers across the U.S. lost 40.7% of their managed honeybee colonies from April 1, 2018, to April 1, 2019, and experienced the highest rate of winter loss in 13 years, preliminary results of the annual nationwide colony loss survey show.

Conducted by the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership with Auburn University and University of Maryland entomologists collecting and analyzing the data, the survey pegs Oct. 1, 2018-April 1, 2019, losses at 37.7%, which is the highest rate since the survey began in 2006-07 and 8.9 percentage points higher than the survey average.

“These results are very concerning, as high winter losses hit an industry already suffering from a decade of high winter losses,” said Maryland entomology associate professor and Bee Informed Partnership president Dennis vanEngelsdorp.

Honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of food crops in the U.S., so their health is critical to food production and supply.

Geoff Williams, Auburn assistant professor of entomology and apiology, said that, although the 2018-19 overall loss of 40.7% is only slightly above the annual average of 38.7%, any increase is troubling.

“Just looking at the overall picture and the 10-year trends, it’s disconcerting that we’re still seeing elevated losses after over a decade of survey and quite intense work to try to understand and reduce colony loss,” Williams said.

Over the summer of 2018, beekeepers reported losing 20.5% of their managed colonies. While that is up from summer 2017’s loss rate of 17.1%, it is on par with the average rate of summer loss since the annual survey was expanded nine years ago to include April 1-Oct. 1 data.

Since the mid-2000s, when beekeepers began noticing dramatic losses in their colonies, state and federal agricultural agencies, university researchers and the beekeeping industry have worked together to understand the cause and develop best management practices to reduce losses. The annual colony loss survey has been an integral part of that effort.

The survey asks commercial, sideline and backyard beekeeping operations to track the survival rates of their colonies. Nearly 4,700 beekeepers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to the 2018-19 survey. Collectively, the respondents manage 319,787 colonies, or about 12% of the nation’s estimated 2.69 million managed colonies.

The Bee Informed Partnership team said multiple factors likely are responsible for the persistently high annual loss rates and this year’s jump in winter losses.

Beekeepers’ top concern, and a leading contributor to winter colony losses, is the varroa mite. The mite is a lethal, disease-transmitting honeybee parasite that can spread from colony to colony that has been decimating colonies for years and that researchers nationwide are working together to develop sustainable strategies to combat.

“We are increasingly concerned about varroa mites and the viruses they spread,” Maryland’s vanEngelsdorp said. “Last year, many beekeepers reported poor treatment efficacy, and limited field tests showed products that once removed 90% of mites or more are now removing far fewer.”

The seeming failure of those once-effective management tools may be evident in the high rates of colony loss in 2018-19, said Karen Rennich, Bee Informed Partnership executive director and senior faculty specialist at Maryland. But varroa mites are not the sole culprit. Land-use changes that have led to a lack of nutrition-rich pollen sources as well as pesticide exposure, environmental factors that include extreme weather and beekeeping practices all play some role, too.

“A persistent worry among beekeepers nationwide is that there are fewer and fewer favorable places for bees to land, and that is putting increased pressure on beekeepers, who are already stretched to their limits to keep their bees alive,” Rennich said. “We also think extreme weather conditions we have seen this past year demand investigation, such as wildfires that ravage the landscape and remove already-limited forage and floods that destroy crops, causing losses for the farmer, for the beekeeper and for the public.”

Williams and the other researchers on the survey team said a multipronged approach that encompasses research, extension and smart management is needed to combat the problem. They urged beekeepers to stay current on and implement science-based best management practices.

“Beekeepers have to be very dynamic in their response to weather and environmental conditions,” Williams said. “If it is a cold, long winter, they need to be very diligent and make sure they have enough food for their bees to survive. On the other hand, warm winters can create favorable conditions for varroa mites, which means beekeepers need to know how to manage them properly.”

Beekeepers can find best management practices on the Bee Informed website. The survey’s summary is provided below.

Winter Loss Estimates:

Oct. 1, 2018-April 1, 2019: 37.7% losses

7 percentage points higher than winter 2017-2018

8.9 percentage points higher than average winter loss (2006-2019)

Summer Loss Estimates:

April 1, 2018-Oct. 1, 2018: 20.5% losses

3.4 percentage points higher than summer 2017

Equal to average summer loss since summer survey began in 2011: 20.5%

Total Annual Loss Estimates:

April 1, 2018-April 1, 2019: 40.7% losses

0.6 percentage points higher than 2017-2018

2.9 percentage points higher loss since annual survey began in 2010-2011: 37.8%

Winter Loss Comparison by Beekeeper Category:

Backyard beekeepers (manage 50 or fewer colonies): 39.8%

Sideline (manage 51-500 colonies): 36.5%

Commercial (manage more than 500 colonies): 37.5%

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