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pH Levels and Pine Trees

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: I live in central Massachusetts. We raised cattle for 30 years, but the cows are all gone now. We selective cut 10 years ago. The deer love the white pine groves, which is where the cows used to graze. There are a few skid paths left from the loggers, and they look like awesome places for food plots. With as many pines as I have will my pH levels be off the charts? Will I be able to grow food plots this year?

whitetail deer
Photo courtesy of Hadley Creek Outfitters

ANSWER: The short answer is yes. Skid paths, tote roads and log landings make great food plots because much of the work is already done for you. Competing vegetation has been removed and the soil is turned over. The fact you live in New England alone suggests your soils will be acidic. The odds increase if the area is forested, particularly with softwoods. That doesn’t mean you can’t plant. Just don’t expect too much the first season.

If you have not already done so, take a soil sample and have it tested. Results will tell you how much lime and fertilizer to put down. Lime is generally slow acting, so it may be three to four months before you and your crop start to realize the benefits. You might want to start with an annual, or even a perennial clover that will help fix nitrogen and enrich the soil. Lime again in the fall, and your ground should be in much better shape next spring.

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