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JMo

First Time Food Plot

24 posts in this topic

I have about ten acres on the Mississippi River east of Bemidji with pretty sandy soil. We just had the lot logged, not clear cut but cut out all of the old timber so there is still some cover. There is a pretty healthy deer population that hangs around our property. I want to put in a small food plot in to keep the deer coming around and healthy. I was wondering what others have planted and had success with. Any suggestions for planting and maintaining a food plot is appreciated.

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We have had our best luck with clover in questionable soil. Seems to take real well and the deer love it. You might have to bring in some black dirt if you want some late season crop like brassicas and turnip. We put a couple plots of rape, brassicas, and turnip and it did well until mid summer in questionable soil but ended up drying out. The clover on the other hand was thick and green even though it was very dry. Going to try more clover, soybean, and corn this year.

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I've had good luck with fridged forest, and whitetail institute seed products, and as always lime and fertilize too get the right soil pH. my plots never really need any maintaining because the deer take care of that.

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You're going to want to do a soil test, that will go a long ways to telling you what is going to grow well and what won't grow as well. And will also tell you about the soil prep you need, in terms of lime and fertilizer.

And it would help to know what you have for equipment. For example, plows, discs, drags, planters, spreaders, sprayers, mowers, tractors, atvs, done by hand, etc. You said a small food plot so I assume you don't have access to much equipment?

You're also going to need to decide if you want to plant perennials, annuals, or both. As a general rule perennials will provide food all year long, and annuals will provide food at specific times of the year, usually later in the fall. Annuals are often planted with the goal of hunting over them, whereas perennials are often planted with the goal of providing nutrition for much of the year and holding deer for much of the year. Perennials usually withstand browsing better, whereas some annuals like brassicas are a 1-shot deal - once the deer eat them, they're done for year.

If your soil really is sandy, you'll want to go with more drought resistant plants like red clover or alfalfa, or a clover variety possibly with chicory. If your soil is really a loam or is heavier and holds some moisture, a white clover would be better. White clovers (including ladino) are typically preferred by the deer much more than red clovers or alfalfa.

However, if you are really limited for equipment and for soil prep, some type of "No Plow" or "Throw and Grow" blend might be the best.

Hope that gets you started, if you have more questions I can try to answer them.

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PJ:

Does the throw and grow product that you are referring to work well? We are looking to put in some food plots this spring...but aren't sure how to get the land tilled. Maybe a product like you are talking about would be the ticket.

How would someone get their soil tested? Do you have to send it to a lab somewhere?

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 Originally Posted By: Water Hazard
Does the throw and grow product that you are referring to work well?

I've only used it once, the first year I did food plots, and I tilled the ground with an atv. It worked good for me, but so did everything else I planted that year. To get this stuff to grow you for sure need to have the seed make contact with the soil, so if there's dead leaves and vegetation you need to remove it first. And you need sunlight, you can't plant it under a thick canopy of leaves and expect it to work. But it is designed to work in low-till or no-till places, and to do that they put hardy or strong-growing seeds in these mixes. It's probably not the best or most preferred food for the deer, it's probbly the easiest stuff to grow that the deer will eat.

Options for soil prep that might work for you are hand raking, using a garden tiller, or dragging something behind an atv or garden tractor to scratch up the soil. Something like an old bed spring, or a weighted section of chain link fence, or a wooden pallet, might work depending on what you're dealing with. None of these are ideal, but they might work.

 Originally Posted By: Water Hazard
How would someone get their soil tested? Do you have to send it to a lab somewhere?

Talk to a farm supply store or a farm coop if you can about soil testing. Or do a search on the University of Minnesota and Soil Testing. To soil test, you basically take samples of your soil from several places around your food plot, just the top 3-4 inches or so where you plant's roots will be growing. Mix these several small samples together, and send in 1 small sample (maybe 1/2 lb of dirt) to a lab to be analyzed. It will tell you the ph, which is very important, and will tell you the fertility of the soil, which is also very important. You need to know this to know what will or won't grow there, and how much lime and how much and what kind of fertilizer to use. Soil tests are cheap and easy, and are one of the most important things to do to get going in the right direction. Without one you're flying blind and potentially wasting a lot of money, time and effort.

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I did an "easy plot" last fall. It was a blend of a special rye,clover and brassica. I put it in on Labor day weekend using a garden tractor to pull a pallet with nails in it to loosen up the ground. I used 10-10-010 fertilizer to prep the soil. We are in an area that has at the most 1 inch top soil, the rest is very sandy. The plot grew do to the rain in Sept and Oct. The crop was mowed down very short with many dropping and other signs from the deer browsing.

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Thanks for all the great advice. I do have an atv and mower with access to other implements. I'll plan on getting the soil tested this spring and then get the area ready. I'm looking forward to keeping those deer around.

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Since you have an atv you already have a BIG obstacle out of the way, and have some options depending on what other equipment you have available.

How big of a food plot are you looking at for this year?

Do you have, or have access to, a disc you can use behind your atv? How about a drag harrow and a herbicide sprayer?

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surewood, was your plot around hill city?

Looks like folks are revving up for food plots this spring.

Got big plans this spring perchjerker? When are you getting started and what is your preliminary plans through the growing season?

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You can Rent a tractor with a tiller on it to do the tilling (6 meter hours about $200), then take a coffee can and drill small holes in it and use that for seeding (drive your ATV down the plot while shaking the can), then use your ATV to drag an old bedspring over the bed to cover the seed. I then like to drive my ATV over the whole bed to compact the soil to make really good seed-to-soil contact. If the main tree species on your land was Pine, you will likely have acidic soil and need to apply lime. You can buy a Spreader that fits your ATV to spread lime or seed.

I would try both an annual and a perennial, like half Rapeseed and half Alfalfa.

The other thing is Weed Control. If the area was total woods, you may be OK, but if not, you'll have lots of grass and weeds to contend with. Not planting anything til late summer the first year may help you get ahead for next year. Wait till the weeds get going, spray the area with roundup, wait 2 weeks, till it, wait 2-4 more weeks, then spray again. Then you could plant in August and have most of the Weeds taken out.

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I have seen some home soil test kits, are they reliable or should I send soil samples in somewhere. If I send samples somewhere, where would you recommend and what would doing that cost?

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I believe the home tests only check for ph, and are not very reliable.

I've done soil tests through the U of M and also through the Whitetail Institute. They cost about $10 and they tell you the soil ph and fertility, so you know how much lime to use and how much and which fertilizer to use. If you don't know how to read the soil test reports you get, anyone at an Ag store or farm coop store should be able to help.

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I agree with PJ. Just go in to any grain elevator or ag store and they will give you the equipment to take the test and will send it off for you. About 10 bucks is what I paid last year. Pretty reasonable!

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I put in some clover this weekend, mostly Alsike in the mix I am told...Anybody had any luck with this stuff?

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Last I heard we don't feed the deer like Texans do...LOL.

What I've tried in Anoka County.

Oat Seed,

Huge Succes. In a semi hardwood area with lots of trees. No tilling, a little goes a long way. It grows rapidly with out much sun light, little moisture and no Fert. This stuff will grow on top of itself, so it's throw and grow!

Real Tree Roadtrips, Backwoods Blend,

Same as above, but I did rake the area with this stuff.

Unlike the Oats this stuff did not suffer when it was covered in snow. This stuff comes up quick and keeps on going.

------------------------------

There really are two tricks with any food plot besides adequate moisture.

1. The deer have to find it. Heck I'm sure it smells like the rest of the plants out there, so make some attractant to help get 'em there. I planted mine in a funnel so it was easy for them, being it was in a travel coridor.

2. Something I didn't do last year, fertilize it. I am sure fertilizing will aid in more healthier plants. Providing a more succulant leaf would surely taste better.

-----------------------

I recently planted a new food plot in Isanti. This is in a pine stand. Once again it's in a funnel, next to a pond and has a wide opening. I have a pump incase we need it. I'm wanting more game than just deer so I planted sunflowers for doves, corn for waterfowl, and the rest for deer such as clover turnip, rye.

And watermelons for me....LOL.

This area is total sand, all I need now is some Texas Heat and Minnesota Humidity.

Can't wait for harvest time!

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I put in some clover this weekend, mostly Alsike in the mix I am told...Anybody had any luck with this stuff?

You can't go wrong with clover. The deer will find it and mow it off and you'll be planting more of it! Hard to plant too much clover!!! I like the mixes, that way some of it will grow in different soil types.

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Not sure, but I think Alsike is an annual clover. It's popular, especially in blends, because annuals tend to germinate more quickly and grow faster. I've seen it recommended in some of the more scientific / management oriented articles (as opposed to the more hype or marketing oriented infomercials). So it was a good choice to try --- hope it works out great for you.

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I add more clover each year.

One reason, I dont have to mess with planting every year. laugh

The deer are in the clover as soon as it sprouts in the springtime. No question they like it.

I have trail cam pics of multiple deer at one time browsing clover right up to rifle opener. There is no question the deer really like it a lot.

I seeded some more of my trails this spring and its starting to pop nicely. Where I have seeded other trails in the past, its a lush green path right now about 4 inches tall.

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Anyone know someone in the Henning/Deer Creek area that would be willing to help first timers get some food plots going? We have 160 acres of deer woods there that we are putting under QDM. There are some open areas that have tall sleugh grass that we want to till and get clover plots going.

We have fourwheelers, some roundup and clover seed, just looking for someone with some experience, equipment, and who would be willing to help.

The other option would be to rent a tractor as mentioned above, but that's alittle spendy.

Thanks.

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If it was the Vining area, I would entertain the idea of helping out. We have all our gear down at our farm south of there. Weekends are just so short the way it is.

How large an area are you talking about?

If its tall slough grass, your first thing you gotta do is mow it down or burn it. Burning probably isnt much of an option at this point in the year.

After you get it mowed, you still have to deal with all the material that doesnt get mulched up. How tall is this grass?

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we are just 3 miles east of the four corners gas station on 210.

we have a couple areas that would like to get going. the smallest is probably 50x80 yards or so. we figured we'd start with that and see how it goes.

the grass is mostly laid down right now from all the heavy snow, and it hasn't grown back up yet. i'd say last year it was probably 2-3 feet long.

we don't feel very comfortable burning out there, so we'll just have to rent a brush mower and rake up or drag the left overs off.

so you'd say we should just mow it, then get rid of the dead stuff first. do you think a tiller or disc would work without mowing?

and then spray with roundup, then probably till/disc it a couple weeks later?

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It will be very hard to disc or till with all the grass there, plus the turf or sod from it too.

If you can't burn it I'd mow it, then let it start regrowing actively, then spray it with roundup. After that you could till, and maybe work in another roundup spraying before you plant.

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Maybe it's just me but I see deer in sleugh grass all the time.

ANywho, mow an area around it and disc it, then torch it up...er down. Apply Round up then wait for recommended time then disk it, plant, and fert. Also get soil sample sent in while your working the ground.

Might try corn too, just to have something tall to compete with it.

Heck I dunno,

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