Now is a great time to plan your 2021 food plots and the most common question we get is: what do I plant? This can start a debate that could make your head spin like a scene from The Exorcist. It doesn’t need to be that way. If you make things simple, you’ll have great food plots. One of the most overlooked factors that causes food plot failure is not taking a soil sample. By taking a soil sample you can use the results to determine if your soil pH is low or high. If your pH is low the test will show how much lime is needed to rase it to the proper pH. It also gives a fertilizer recommendation for the different crops. Just remember if you don’t get the pH right the soil will not utilize fertilizer to its full potential. Most food plot crops will grow with a soil pH 6.0 to 7.0.
Now decide if you are looking for a spring to fall forage plot (annual or perennial). When purchasing seed look at the seed labels located on the back of every bag. What you’re looking for is the test date which should be within the same year you’re planting. Next look at the germination percentage, this should be in the mid to high 90’s. Also check for a high percentage of the crop seed your looking to grow, if the inert mater is a above over 10%, you’re paying for filler. The bag of seed should also have planting dates based on your location along with directions. The seed company should have a phone number or email so you can ask for help with any problem or general questions.
HB Seed Company has some of the freshest seed I have ever planted, and their seed blends are top notch. One of the last tips I can give you is to experiment by planting strips of crops per plot and let the deer determine if they like it and you’ll know if that crop will grow in your plot. If you follow these tips, you’re going to have awesome plots that are as enjoyable as the hunt.
If your looking for food plot help this video will answer your questions. Doug Kostreva owner of HB Seed Company along with his friends from AgSource Laboratories and Plot Dr help breaks down the process needed for a successful food plot. We were very happy to produce and edit this video its loaded with great information.
We explain in the video how we setup one of our food plots. It covers cedar rub poles, hemp ropes, scent, scrape lines, forages planted and talks about the location in regard to bedding areas.
Forage Chicory is a perennial forage herb that will grow in well-drained or moderately drained soils with ph levels 5.5 or higher. It has a deep taproot making it drought tolerant. Chicory produces large green leaf’s that are full of protein, levels can reach 30% depending on the maturity of the plant. It also contains high levels of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium) that are essential for proper deer nutrition. Chicory digestible rate can reach 90% making it highly digestible for deer. Chicory contains a low quantity of tannin that can increase protein utilization efficiency and can help eliminating intestinal worms in ruminant animals. Chicory consumption by doe can increase milk production that will help feed fawns.
Chicory is a great choice to plant with clover as it needs nitrogen that is produced by clover to grow. It can last 3 to 5 years if managed properly. Another reason to plant chicory with clovers is during summer heat when clover growth slow down chicory will continue to grow and offer deer a green nutritional food sour
I prefer to plant chicory in a blend with clover because it adds diversity to a food plot. What I mean by this is clover comes up fast in spring and offers great nutrition until the heat of summer slows it growth and will go dormant. By adding chicory to the blend, you have a forage that will come up a little slower than clover in spring but has a deeper taproot and will tolerate the heat of summer. So now you will have a green food plot from spring to late fall. Chicory should be 25% to clover 75% in blends.
Maintaining Chicory is easy as keeping it mowed when it reaches 10 plus inches. Remember the rule of thumb is to cut half and leave half so don’t get over aggressive with mowing. All your trying to do is prevent the chicory form flowering and becoming all stem with small leaf’s making it less palatable and notorious.
So, if your not currently planting chicory you should be as it has so much to offer whitetail deer form spring to fall.
Clovers are legumes that need phosphate and potash to grow, this can be added to soil by fertilizing based on a soil sample analysis (always take a soil sample and have it tested to determine what your soil needs, this will allow crops to grow to their potential). Clovers produce nitrogen through nodules on their root system and use what nitrogen they need and release the rest back into the soil. Clovers grow best with pH levels 6.0 to 7.0 but some can grow with pH levels in the 5.5 range (I will note that below under common varieties). Clovers can grow in all types of soils so make sure you choose the right cover for your soil condition. Clovers need 4 to 6 hours of light a day but the more sunlight they have the faster they will grow. Clovers need 30 inches of rain annually to make for a full lush stand. Fall plantings are the best time for planting because weed growth has slow down or stopped altogether for the season. Planting can be done by burn down, lightly tilling, fertilizing, applying lime, broadcasting seed and cultipacking seed. Remember clove seed is very small so seeding rates are important. You can waste seed very easy if you don’t set your seeder to the proper rate. Clover should be planted at the rate of 8 to 20lbs (depending on the variety of clover you are planting) per acre at the depth of no more than ¼ inch. Spring frost seeding can also be a very effective way to plant clover seed. All you have to do is prep your soil in the fall and broadcast your seed in spring when temperatures reach the 40’s during daylight and back in the mid 30’s at night. What this does is allows the sun to open the soil just enough to allow seed to get into the ground. To maintain clover mowing will have to be done 3 times a season depending on rain fall and were you live, this will also help with weed issues in your plot. Mowing before weeds head out and drop seed is key to maintaining weeds by mowing. Grasses can be controlled by spraying your plot with clethodim. Sometimes clethodim needs to be applied twice to be effective. Always read the directions before applying any type of weed killer. Late fall fertilizing will help clovers going into winter and the following spring. 5-20-20 works great at the rate of 150lbs per acre.
Most common varieties of clover
Medium Red Clover: Perennial, fast growing, multi cut, winter hardy, grows in any loam or clay soil, responding best to well drained, fertile soils, but also tolerates less well drained conditions. It grows best I soils with pH range 6.0 to 7.0. Red clover seed should be inoculated. Stem lengths can vary from 18 to 30 inches depending on verities. It also has an extensive root system that permeates the topsoil. Its taproot may penetrate several feet. Flowers are rose to pink in color. Seeding rate of 8 to 10lbs per acre.
Alsike Clover: Perennial, adapted to a wide range of soil types and grows well in northern climates, winter hardy, grows well on soils that are too acidic for red clover (pH 6.0) and can tolerate more alkalinity than most clovers, will tolerate wetter soils better than other clovers, works best if planted in a mix. Seeding rate of 6 to 8lbs per acre.
Berseem Clover: Annual, fast growing summer annual, it can produce fixate large amounts of nitrogen 100 to 200 units, grows best with pH range 6.0 to 7.0, can handle drought better than most clovers, seeding rate 8 to 12lbs drilled or 15 to 20lbs per acre broadcasted, can be planted as a cover crop.
Crimson Clover: Annual, fast growing in soil pH 6.0 to 7.0, grows well in about any type of well-drained soil, especially sandy loam. fixates nitrogen 70 to 100 units, can be used as a cover crop, has a dark red cone shaped flower, seed 15 to 18lbs per acre if drilled or 20 to 30 if broadcasted.
FIXation Balansa Clover: Annual, one of the most cold-tolerant annual clovers with temperatures down to -14 F, can be used as a cover crop for nitrogen production and weed control, FIXatioN matures approximately 14 days later than Crimson Clover and up to 28 days later than other commercially available Balansa varieties – while still producing greater overall growth throughout the growing cycle, will grow in heavy clay soils to sandy soils, soil pH of 4.5 to 8.5, High crude proteins as high as 28%, highly palatable, large leaves, can produce 100 units on nitrogen per acre, depth root system make id drought tolerant, Seeding rate 8lbs per acre broadcasted.
White/Ladino Clover: Per Annual, one of the most cold-tolerant annual clovers with temperatures down to -14 F, can be used as a cover crop for nitrogen production and weed control, FIXatioN matures approximately 14 days later than Crimson Clover and up to 28 days later than other commercially available Balansa varieties – while still producing greater overall growth throughout the growing cycle, will grow in heavy clay soils to sandy soils, soil pH of 4.5 to 7.5, High crude proteins as high as 28%, highly palatable, large leaves, can produce 100 units on nitrogen per acre, depth root system make id drought tolerant, Seeding rate 8lbs per acre broadcasted.
Over seeding exciting clover plots has many benefits. It can be done to help a second season plot fill in or can add life to an older plot that is showing signs of thinning. Over seeding should be done in spring or fall but never in the heat of summer.
Seeding rate for over seeding an exciting plot is 4 to 6lbs per acre for over seeding.
Luck O’ Blend clover blend by HB (Horny Buck) Seed Company is a blend of Medium Red Clover, White Dutch Clover, HB Brand Ladino Clover, Alsike Clover, Crimson Clover. These clover varieties have the best possible proteins available.
Frost seeding can be one of the most efficient ways to plant clover seed. HB Luck O' Blend is a blend of five clovers (Medium Red Clover, White Dutch Clover, HB Brand Ladino Clover, Alsike Clover, Crimson Clover) that give you diversity for different soil types. This blend offers great proteins that helps deer recover from winter, does that are fawning and for buck antler growth. The different clovers mature at different times throughout the season so it also works great as a pollinator for bees.
When frost seeding a new plot, you’ll want to seed at the rate to 8-lbs per acre. This blends frost seeding rate is 4-lbs. per acre on plots that are showing signs of thinning. Remember a healthy clover plot that is lush during the growing season will take less work to control unwanted weeds. As with any food plot A Soil Test is rule number 1.
Fall food plots are planted and now for mother natural to help with rain. We planted HB Seed’s “Sweet Frost” that is a blend of protein plus rapeseed seed along with purple top turnips and ‘Tank-A-Licious” that has tall brassica, impact forage collards, purple top turnips, hb special radish and premier forage kale. Both blends mature in 60 days and are a great fall and winter food sources for deer. Just remember when planting to not over seed or you’ll get stunted or no bulbs they need space to grow and mature.
I can't say enough about HB Seed Company's Sweet Frost. Its one of the easiest blends to plant and is full of nutrition. Sweet Frost is a mix of Purple Top Turnip and Protein Plus Rapeseed. Planting is as easy as tilling, rolling, broadcast seed, roll again and what for rain. Seeding rate is 4-lbs per half acre and planted 60 days before your first frost. Remember to always take a soil test so you know exactly what fertilizations is needed for your corp. Both the tops and bulbs are full of crude proteins. This mix is also designed to offer deer a food source that will last late into the season when most other crop are long gone.
By having plots with bulbs we winter deer from the area around us because its one of the only food sources that is available. In spring we find a lot of shed antlers in plot planted with bulbs like Sweet Frost. This is one mix that you should add to your food plot management program for next season.
For more information on Sweet Frost or other HB seed Company products go to https://hornybuckseed.com/
Giving our fall plots a burst with Plot DR's Liquid 9-18-9 fertilizer. Check out Plot DR's full line of liquid products that will make thing easier than haling around 50 lbs bags of lime and fertilizer.