Food Plot Prep

Sep 25, 2023


Planting food plots is the most popular wildlife management practice among landowners wanting to enhance the environment for deer. However, successful food plots require regular planting and management. Here are seven tips to consider:
 
  1. Ask the right questions
Answering some pertinent questions is the first step in successful food plot preparation. How many acres can you successfully manage? How much time can you commit, per week, to the plot’s success? How much money can you dedicate to the success of your plot? Are you planting food plots as a “quick fix” or as a dedicated management practice?
 
  1. Test the soil
Before you begin planting, speak with your local Co-op about conducting a soil test to determine your soil’s pH and nutrient levels. The results will help you choose the right fertilizer and soil amendments to improve soil quality.
 
  1. Prepare the soil
Clear the area of existing vegetation and debris by disking or spraying the food plot a week or two before you anticipate planting. Starting with a clean seedbed is key to plot success. Based on the soil test results, apply the recommended fertilizer and lime to adjust the pH if necessary.
 
  1. Select deer-preferred crops
Choose a mix of deer-favorite crops that provide nutrition throughout the year. Common options include clover, chicory, soybeans, corn, oats, wheat, and brassicas (turnips and radishes). Different crops thrive in different seasons. For example, plant cool-season crops like clover and oats in the fall and warm-season crops like soybeans and corn in the spring to provide a year-round source of food for deer.
 
  1. Control your weeds
Have a plan for weed control throughout the growing season. There are grasses, broadleaves, and nutsedge. You must know the differences, along with treatments, for each class of weeds.
 
  1. Prohibit access to a small area
When you plant, always secure a game-retardant structure in the middle of your plot to prohibit access to a small area. For example, a 3-foot diameter piece of page wire that’s about 3 feet high is a common option. This will show the extent to which your plot is being utilized by the game and will help in making future management decisions.
 
  1. Stay in for the long haul
If you are in for the long haul, you need plans for spring/summer food plots and fall/winter plots. Evaluate the performance of your food plot each year and adjust as necessary. This is crucial in improving overall herd health and growing an attractive food plot. You must plan for the maximum output with your given inputs and follow correct food plot management practices.
 
Your local Co-op carries a large selection of food plot seed, planting equipment, wildlife feed, feeders, and more. Speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members to develop a food plot management plan for this season. After all, who knows the outdoors better than farmers? No one! Find the nearest store location here.
 
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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