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Help on my food plot please
Last Post 18 Sep 2007 11:26 PM by Shawn. 4 Replies.
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18 Sep 2007 02:38 AM  

I am new to planting plots for deer and I need some advice. I live in NE Alabama and have a plot area of around 3/4 acre for an 18 acre tract of land. I have most of my soil at the 6.5 range in ph.

I have the option of planting either crimson or white (dyno?) clover. I was going to plant crimson but have heard that the white is better because it will come back over and over. Which do you think is best? I am planting winter wheat also.

My plot has been full of ironweed and some other forms of weed, I have physically cleared much of the plot, and can see the ground easily. Can I till up the ground without clearing all the weeds? I have very little options as far as equiptment, but can have the use of a tractor/tiller for a day. Can I just till the ground, and then plant?

Also, after planting, should I drag the field with a fence on my 4wheeler, or just pack it in by riding over the plot?

I know I sound kind of ignorant to this, but it is my first attempt at a food plot and I am prone to do stupid things, so I thought I would ask first. Any help would be appreciated.



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18 Sep 2007 03:17 AM  
I live in West Alabama and we start out bush hogging our plots then tillling them up to cut as much of the grass and weeds as possible.We usually plant a deer mix purchased at our local co-op,adding some rye grass,extra clover and rape.I think the clover is the white variety.
Good luck on your food plot and the up comming season.
The God of My Rock;He Is My Sheild;And The Horn Of My Salvation 2 Samuuel,Ch 22
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18 Sep 2007 04:06 AM  
talk to your local agurculture extention agent he probly could tell you more then you need to know about what to plant in you area and what to put on it as far as pest/ herbicide and fertilzers the local coop would be another person to talk to so you can get an idea about the pests in the area
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18 Sep 2007 09:14 PM  
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18 Sep 2007 11:26 PM  
This is some info I posted a couple of years ago. Hope it helps.

I would like to add my opinion on the wheat you plan on planting.

Wheats and Ryes are excellent plants but have limitations. The main problem is we don't manage the plant correctly. When the plant matures, the stalk can actually become difficult for deer to digest and at that point there isn't really any nutritional value anyway. In times of lean pickings the deer are hungry and will eat it but if they eat to much it can cause their digestive system some stress and in a few cases the deer may end up very sick or even die. While the wheat is young and tender it's good stuff but I suggest that you bush hog any remaining mature plants so as to not cause the deer any undue harm.


Producing high-quality food plots requires superior seed blends, the right equipment, and the knowledge to know when, where, and how to use each correctly. In order to have a successful food plot management program, you must put together all the pieces of the food plot puzzle. Missing a critical ingredient of this puzzle, such as planting the wrong seed or incorrect planting, limits your chances of having a successful food plot program.

Supplemental Feeding vs. Food Plots, They're Not The Same

Certainly, the nutritional plane of a herd can be improved somewhat through supplemental feeding of pellets or other feeds, but the degree to which numbers and size can be impacted by supplemental feed pales in comparison with that of food plots … unless you're willing to significantly damage natural habitat. You need to understand that the "whitetail" is a browser, and as long as they have something to browse on, they'll browse. Standing in one place and feeding on, say, pellets is an unnatural act, but they'll do it to a degree … but only to a degree. As a result of there browsing instincts, a deer on good habitat will seldom eat more than 25% of there daily intake in supplemental feed. The only way to significantly increase the supplemental feed intake is to eliminate there browsing options. That means damaging the native habitat to such a degree that deer are forced to supplemental feed because of limited browse availability..... that’s probably not a good idea. That's what happens with penned deer - they are made to feed (and prosper) on direct feed because they have no choice since browse options have been eliminated. But in whitetail management and hunting, such severe damage to the habitat is unacceptable to responsible managers interested in land stewardship and fair-chase hunting. So, supplemental feeding of pellets and the like should be just that - supplemental, a way to help level out and somewhat elevate the nutritional plane of a herd.

By contrast, when deer are feeding on food plots, they are browsing! Every bite they take in a food plot is one less bite of native vegetation they will have to eat! And when highly preferred, nutritious plants are used, as much as 75% of a deer's daily intake may be food plot plants, making it easy to see how food plots can greatly improve the nutritional plane of a deer herd and relieve pressure on native habitat.

Two Seasons, Two Nutritional Needs

The whitetail's nutritional needs can be divided into two parts - cool season (fall and winter) and warm season (spring and summer). During the warm season, bucks need lots of protein to rebuild body mass lost during the rigors of the rut and winter and to grow antlers. If protein is in short supply, the body gets first dibs on whatever is available and antler growth suffers. For bucks, the rule of thumb is that they need a diet of at least 16% protein from the time they lose their antlers in late winter/early spring until they shed their velvet in early fall. Does also need a high protein diet during the warm season to both regain body mass lost during the winter and nourish something rapidly growing - fawns.

In the cool season, the name of the game is not so much building up body mass as not to losing what they already have. Between the heightened activity of the rut and the caloric demands of the cold, deer need an outside source of energy. Otherwise, they'll burn muscle and consume their body reserves. This is especially so with rutting bucks. While protein is always of benefit to deer, they now have an increased need for energy. From the manager's standpoint, the better condition deer come through the winter, the more spring protein will be available for antler growth in bucks and fawn development in does.

Having read all of that, it makes no difference what you plant if you haven't prepared the soil.

Soil preparation is absolutely critical for "Quality" food plots. No need for any Nitrate until you plant.

The nitrate will only serve to feed the weeds. Build your soil with Lime and 0-02-20. When your soil sample results come in apply pursuant to those recommendations and unless your planting
"Omit" the ammonium nitrate.

Soil samples......................pull a couple of dozen of them from various "Spots" with-in the area to be planted. Mix all of them together and pull 1 sample from the mixture. If you go with annuals, pull each of the samples from no less than 4 inches. perennials= 8 inches.

The 7 Steps to Planting Food Plots.

1. Do a soil test, and then fertilize and lime as needed. You won’t believe the difference fertilizing and liming will make in both the attraction and production of your food plot! If the ph is lower than 5.8, which it probably will be if pines grow there, lime will greatly help. And, you can fertilize almost anything and make it more attractive to deer, but if you fertilize a desirable food plot, the difference can be astounding.

2. Control competing weeds and grass. Weeds greatly reduce yield, utilization and the life expectancy of perennial plots. Thorough disking before planting and/or the use of selected herbicides will do wonders. Work hard to keep your plots clean.

3. Prepare your seedbed well, making sure it is thoroughly disked, clean and level. After all, you’re “farming for deer,” whether using a 4-wheeler or John Deere tractor. The quality of your food plot will reflect the quality of your farming effort. Think of the seedbed as the foundation on which you’re building your food plot “house.”

4. Choose the right seeds for your soils, climate and purpose. There’s a vast difference in food plot plants. Decide what you want your plot to accomplish and pick just the right thing for the job, meaning the right thing for your region, soil type, climate, equipment and farming expertise. Your food plot will be no better than what you put in the ground.

5. Time you’re planting for optimum success. You need to plant at the right time of year and when the temperature and moisture are right for your crop. Wait for the ideal window and move quickly. Planting too early or late or in the wrong conditions will cost production … and maybe even the crop.

6. Plant at the right depth. Big seeds like cereal grains, Lablab, Lablab Plus and cowpeas can be planted an inch or more deep, but small seeds, like clovers and chicory, can’t push through much soil and must be planted a half-inch deep or less. Generally, planting with a grain drill is preferable to broadcasting because depth and distribution can be better controlled.

7. Larger, “fatter” plots yield more than smaller, narrow ones. You’ll have less production on plots under an acre in size and/or on long, narrow plots with lots of edge because of shading and competition from adjoining trees and brush. Yes, small, narrow plots are aesthetically pleasing, but when production is the goal, you need reasonable acreage and more “open” land removed from shading and edge competition to allow the food plot plants to really grow. The degree to which trees and brush can compete for food plot nutrients and moisture is tremendous.

Step 7 is not normally an option for most of us, me included and I see where this applies to you as well But I do really well with what I have, as my soils are "Balanced".

Good Hunting.

Shawnibal Lecter
If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God's sake don't pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If so, then plan your future around saying... "Would you like fries with that?"
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