QUESTION: The farms surrounding my hunting area will be planted in corn again for the upcoming 2013-2014 hunting season. I've considered planting two or three soybean food plots, which will be surrounded by corn and available after the corn is harvested. I have equipment to till and agitate the soils for the plot but was wondering if I could use a spreader to apply the soybean seed rather than planting in rows. Would spreading work all right? Would it produce as well as rows? Also, should I mix in anything else such as clover? I don't want to mix something that will compete with the soybeans. - Anonymous
ANSWER: For an informed answer I consulted my friend, Mike Mattly, who handles media relations for Moultrie, Knight & Hale, Summit and Code Blue. Mike also owns and leases several hundred acres of prime whitetail habitat in Iowa, much of which he maintains in food plots of principally corn and soybeans.
He responded, "Yes, I've broadcast soybeans many times. Round-Up Ready are the best, so you can burn down the weeds a couple times with an ATV."
He said, "A bag of beans will cover approximately one acre and there will be a seed count on the tag, so you can do some easy math and figure out the plot size-seed ratio."
Mattly noted that dragging a harrow over the seed usually is enough to get good seed-to-soil contact, which is important for proper germination.
He also cautioned that mixing is tricky unless you're using something like winter wheat and turnips or a variety of brassicas.
"I've tried mixing corn and beans together, and others, and won't I do it again," he notes.
He also advises, "If there's a high deer density, only plant beans in plots of one acre or larger. For small plots use winter wheat, turnips, triticale or brassicas. And last but not least, get soil samples and treat your soil according to recommendations."