Ducks are remarkably adaptable, often travelling long distances in search of food. Additionally, they have different food preferences depending on when and where they find it.
One such food source is smartweed, a grass that thrives best in moist soil and ponds. It produces abundant small black seeds which mallards, teal and pintails enjoy eating.
It is a perennial
Smartweed duck food is a perennial plant that thrives in moist soils. It makes an excellent addition to wetland restoration projects and habitat seed mixes.
It can be found in lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers and ditches as well as marshes, wet meadows and dune-slacks.
Aquatic species of this flower can reach lengths of six feet with leaves that float on the water’s surface. Its bright reddish-pink flowers bloom from midsummer into autumn.
Terrestrial plants typically reach heights of 1 to 3 feet and may have sparsely branched stems.
They can tolerate a wide variety of soils, including sand, clay, loam, peat, shingle, manure and underwater silt. Optimal pH range should be 3.0 to 8.0.
This plant’s seeds provide protein for ducks, making it a great alternative to corn. Many duck species, such as mallards, pintails, teal and canvasbacks are highly attracted to its seeds – an excellent alternative for corn!
It is easy to grow
Smartweed is one of the simplest foods for ducks to cultivate. This perennial plant thrives in a range of habitats, from large man-made ponds to smaller cattle ponds.
Beyond being an easy plant to cultivate, this species also provides food for ducks and sweet nectar for butterflies. Furthermore, it serves as a vital source of pollen for bees.
Another great benefit of smartweed is that it can be harvested year-round. This means you can have a food plot year-round!
Create a successful duck food plot by selecting species that thrive in moist soils. Examples of such plants include wild celery, arrow arum, sago pondweed, smartweed and barnyard grass.
It is a good alternative to corn
Smartweed (Persicaria hydropiperoides) and Pennsylvania smartweed (Persicaria pensylvanica) make excellent native alternatives for duck food plots. These plants produce small seeds which ducks love to eat and thrive in moist soils.
Smartweed, unlike corn which needs planting annually, grows continuously throughout the year and provides ducks with a reliable source of protein. According to the “Waterfowl Management Handbook,” smartweed provides almost the same gross energy as corn and more than milo in gross energy content.
Millet and wild rice are excellent food options for ducks, though they lack the energy or protein that smartweed offers. To provide your pond with a diverse ecosystem of plants such as pondweeds, wild celery, smartweed, wild rice, and millet, consider planting an assortment of these items alongside each other.
It is a good food source for wood ducks
Smartweed, along with corn, is one of the most nutrient-rich food sources for ducks. According to the “Waterfowl Management Handbook,” smartweed produces four times more gross energy and protein than corn does.
It thrives on a wide range of soils, from wet to dry. The stems are typically upright or spreading and branch at their nodes. The leaves are long, lanceolate and rough on both surfaces.
At the ends of stems, pink or dark pink blooms appear in clusters 2-4 cm (1/2 to 1 inch) wide and contain 50-80 petals.
Bees love this plant; it provides two-thirds of the pollination needed to make honey. It blooms from July through October and makes an ideal home for wood ducks.