Building a food plot sounds a lot easier than it actually is. You must know what to plant, where to plant, and when to plant. Those three things are very crucial when wanting to have a successful food plot for the deer. If you are having trouble with your food plot or would like to start one, here are a few tips on how to get your food plot looking better than ever.
First, it all depends on what you want to plant in your food plot. However what you want to plant is not always suitable for your local environment.
Next, you want to figure out where you’re going to put your food plot. Depending on the deer density, plots should be about 1 to 2 acres in size.
Lastly, you want to know when it is good to plant your seeds. If they are not planted at the correct time of the year, they may not produce to their best quality.
Listed below are some examples of crops to plant in your food plot, and how to get them growing perfect for the deer.
Buckwheat is an easy-to-grow, warm seasoned plant that grows best in sandy soils. It can be planted with cowpeas, grain sorghum, soybeans or it can be planted alone. There is little to no seedbed preparation, but when the seedbed is prepared there is a higher chance of success for the seed. The best time to plant is in the spring, but it can also be planted in July or August. Buckwheat performs well in a cool, moist environment and is best suited for the Northeast or Upper Midwest, but it can be planted in the south. This plant is relatively short-lived, and it will provide some temporary forage benefits for the deer. The best way to plant this seed is by broadcasting or drilling 1 to 2 inches deep. If seeded in a pure stand, broadcast buckwheat at 50 to 60 lbs. /acre or 30 to 40 lbs. /acre when using a grain drill. Test soil to see how much fertilizer to use. This is a fast growing plant, and it is good for early bow season.
Alyceclover is a warm seasoned, annual legume that is usually used in pastures as livestock forage or it is managed for hay production. This plant does not tolerate wet soil conditions, and its best production occurs in sandy loam to clay soils. This plant is moderately preferred when wanting to attract deer. This plant is very good with drought tolerance and can go days without needed water. When planting this seed it is always important to test the soil, but with this plant it does not need nitrogen fertilizer because it produces its own. When broadcasting, create a smooth and firm planting surface because this promotes optimal germination. When no-till planting, kill the existing vegetation with glyphosate to eliminate weed competition. This should be done a couple of weeks prior to planting. If planting pure stands, broadcast 20 lbs. /acre or drill 10 to 12 lbs. /acre at a maximum depth of 1/4- to 1/2-inch. The best time to plant is April to June in the southern regions, and May to June in the northern regions. In conclusion, this plant is excellent in providing nice summer forage for the local deer.
Corn is a warm seasoned grass that produces grain on the ears that grow along the stem. This plant is a great source of energy for the deer, especially in the fall and early winter. It also makes good bedding and thermal cover for the deer if left not harvested. Corn does best when planted in very fertile soils, and it prefers well-drained, loamy soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Corn does not handle droughts well, and it does better when there is a lot of rainfall. One downside of corn is that it does not compete well with weeds. A good solution to this problem is to use Round Up Ready Corn because it can control the weeds without damaging the corn. The best time to plant corn is mid-March in the south, April in the middle part of the country, and May in more of the northern climates. When planting the seed it is good to make sure that the temperature of the soil is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can plant the seed by using conventional tillage and planting it in rows, or you can use broadcasting in a prepared seedbed. During no-till drilling, the corn is normally planted at a rate of 5 to 10lbs. /acre, but when broadcasting the corn is normally planted at a rate of 10lbs. /acre. The seeds do best when they are about an inch deep and cultipacked after planting. Corn requires for the soil to be very fertile, and it is a big nitrogen user. Since corn needs to be in very fertile soil it is good to not plant the corn in the same field in two or more consecutive years. Corn is an excellent plant to use when wanting to attract deer.
Cowpeas (black-eyed peas) are a warm seasoned legume that originated from Ethiopia, and has widely adapted to soils and climate conditions all throughout the country. They are extremely drought tolerant and good for the south. Cowpeas can produce in excess about 8,000 pounds of quality forage per year. It is good to have the plot size at least 1 acre depending on the deer density. It’s important to remember to test the soil so that you know how much lime and fertilizer to apply. When broadcast seeding, remember to have a smooth and firm planting surface free of any debris. When no-till planting, make sure to get rid of the existing vegetation with glyphosate to eliminate any weed competition. It is good to plant about 70 to 80 lbs. /acre if broadcasting, and cover the seed about an inch by lightly disking. If you are drilling the seed, plant approximately 40 to 50 lbs. /acre. It is good to start planting Cowpeas around mid-April in the south, and in the north they should be planted starting in late May or early June. Cowpeas are an excellent way to change things up in your food plot and attract more deer.
These are just a few examples of things you can plant in your food plot. A few other crops include Grain Sorghum, Lablab, Soybeans, Sugar Beets and many more. If you would like more information on food plotting, check out the two links below. One link will take you to the QDMA website and the other will take you to the Bass Pro Hunting 365 website. June is QDMA donation month at Bass Pro Shops, so make sure to make your donation at your local Bass Pro Shops to help improve wildlife habitat, and ensure healthy deer populations for future generations!
Resources: Food Plots Planting Spring Food Plots
Check out Bass Pro Shops assortment of Food Plot and Land Management Products! http://goo.gl/AC48FP
QDMA articles http://www.qdma.com/articles/qdmas-guide-to-summer-food-plots
Bass Pro Shops Hunt365 "United We Hunt" http://goo.gl/3aV0VH