Starting A Food Plot

So you’re thinking of starting a food plot? I found myself in that same situation about two years ago when I cleared my first plot. In the area of deer management and food plots I was like most beginners. I had no clue where to start or what my final plan was going to be.
This article can be seen as a starting point for people who are thinking of starting a food plot, and incorporating it into their current deer management plan. This article is not based on any research and I am by no means an expert in the area – this is simply what I did and what I continue to do. I would like to be able to help people start their plan by giving them some tips and thoughts. The 300 hundred-acre farm that I hunt currently has 4 food plots and more in the works. So as I try and learn new things I will add it this page, for now I will give you a starting point and some things to consider.
The first thing that must be done before anything else is plan what you would like to accomplish. Here you can simply look at the land you have available and determine how many food plots you want and what size you would like to make them. Another very important factor is location. You should try to find a location that has a nearby water supply, and provides cover from both the weather and predators. Once you have a clear plan such as where you would like to place your plots and how big you want them, clearing the plots will start.
Tree and brush removal is very labor intensive and can be quite expensive and will often lead to unfinished plots. You should find a location with the least amount of trees and brush as possible. When I look for a new area I try to locate areas that have been logged before and have grown up with thick brush (This may not be an option for some people unless your land has been logged off). I do this because most of the clearing I do is by hand with a chain saw, brush cutters, and a tractor and brush hog. Here is a tip that you could consider. Depending on how big your plot is and how big the trees are, you could try to sell the logs that are there to earn some money to help fund your project.
Ok now that you have your area picked out and cleared now is the time to prepare the site. I will tell you what I do in this stage but the final decision is yours and the situation you have. Once I have a food plot cleared I wait until new growth begins and I begin to kill the weeds. I like to go to the local garden center and buy a weed and brush killer. I use round up because you can plant two weeks after you use it. I buy the concentrate and mix it, as I need it. If you have ever seen what can happen to an area once all the bigger trees have been removed you know first hand how rapidly the under brush can grow up. This is one reason why I like to wait at least one season before I plant any thing. Once the new growth begins it is very vital that you attack the brush and keep it under control. Simply mix your brush killer in the quantity you need and spray the area well. This step is not required but I would advise you to take it. I would hate to see you spend all that time, money, and hard work on clearing the site just to have the under brush take over the newly planted food plot seed you lay down.
Once you have your plot clear and most of the brush killed off it is now time to start planting. You should have an idea by now as to what kind of seed you would like to plant. There are a lot of different types of food plot mix on the market and the final choice is yours. I have two food plots that have nothing but Ladino clover in them. I have another plot that gets a mixture of clover, wheat, rye, and turnips that gets replanted every spring. The fourth food plot that I am working on is going to be a mini apple orchard with clover and grass in between the trees. Other types of things that work well for food plots are alfalfa, corn, soybeans, lespedeza, chufa, or Milo. Another helpful tip is before you buy any seed check with your state conservation department and see if they have a program that helps private land owners acquire seed. Before you plant your plot it would be a good idea to test your soil for the proper PH level, and to see what types of nutrients you will need to add. Most garden centers have a do it yourself soil testing kit. The ones I have seen seem pretty easy to use. I use the PH meter made by Rapitest, it is simple to use and I am happy with the performance of this product. Once you have tested your soil you can plant the mix you have decided on. Fertilize the soil according to the test results and the type of mix you picked out.
You now have a food plot that is well on its way to providing your deer herd with the nutrients they need to survive. With some maintenance, your new plot will supply wildlife with food for years to come. Have Fun.

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