You can have the big fancy equipment and that’s great for planting corn, beans and larger seeds in the spring but the most effective food plots we have on our farms are our fall green food plots which require little to no equipment at all. Here’s what you need to plant an effective fall food plot.
Step 1 -Mow
This can be a big fancy Bush Hog or all the way down to a weed whacker. The goal is to open the plant so when you spray it kills the plant and root structure. As simple as it sounds just mow your entire food plot area and wait a week to allow the plants to pop back up through the thatch.
Step 2- Spray
Next come in after that week and spray your entire plot heavy with about 2oz per gallon with 41% glyphosate, (Disclosure, make sure you read the label before application of any chemical). I use the cheapest version of 41% glyphosate I can find. Usually from a farm store.
Step 3-Spray Again
Come back two weeks later and spray again. This is a must for two reasons. First this will kill any new weeds popping through and any stragglers you missed the first time. Second, when you till the dirt you are planting and stirring up lots of weed seeds. If you can skip planting the weeds and killing all the established weeds a second time you should have a beautiful crop of just what you sow.
Step 4- Plant
Anytime within two weeks you can start broadcasting your seed into the dead weeds and thatch. The most important part of this is to wait right before rain is forecasted. The goal is to have all the tiny seeds on the ground or in the thatch get hit by water and barely push them into the moist ground and knock them through the thatch. Your thatch layer that is lying on top will hold moisture just like mulch around a tree and continue to hold the ground with its dead root structure until your crop establishes root structure to pop through it on its way to its friend, the sun.
Deer have a buffet pallet meaning they like variety. Your crops are going to have different tastes at different times and you want them continuously coming to the same spot every day to eat, regardless what they are hungry for that day. One thing I want to bring up is the variety of the seeds you are planting. For example just because you get turnip seed doesn’t mean it will be the same as the next turnip seed. I use to buy turnips from my local co-op and the deer wouldn’t touch them until they froze, now I use a specific seed variety from, Real World Wildlife Products. These grow four times the size and are palatable way before it freezes. Here’s everything I use for green fall food plots without tillage. Remember two things, don’t over seed and second put in about 30% clover as that puts nitrogen back into the soil and will be available right away in the spring for your turkeys, recovering deer herd and milk producing mommas.
Forage Collards & Impact Forage Collards
Purple Head Turnips
Oil Seed Radish & Tillage Radish
-All of these are found in Real World Wildlife Products- Plot Topper.
Winter Hardy- Forage Oats
I use Real World Wildlife Products –Whitetail Forage Oats
I’ve had the best luck with Real World Wildlife Products, Plot Topper and Whitetail Forage Oats, for non-tillage options, in my side-by-side tests against other seeds. (I literally planted five acres in strips right outside my front door of anything I could get my hands on to make sure I knew when and what the deer were wanting).
Food plots can be a blast or a nightmare. Looking back on all I’ve learned the past few years I would have started smaller without tillage and would have added equipment and acres later. My biggest frustrations in food plots have come from weeds, tillage equipment breakdowns, moisture, and over planting. Start small with your food plots, perfect that small plot first then add to it. Don’t try to build Rome in a weekend.
Planting Time Period- August to the End of September. Try to back off 45 days from your first frost, as a rule of thumb.
This blog post comes from Shanyn Hart.
Winner of ‘Miss Wildgame’ on MyOutdoorTv.com and Previously on the Outdoor Channel.
Shanyn is an Iowa based hunter who turned her obsession for whitetail deer into a lifestyle dedicated to big game. After helping guide whitetail hunts in Buffalo County, WI for three years, Shanyn got back to hunting the majestic animals herself and has dedicated this last year to finding a hunting ranch which she now resides on. 400+ acres in Iowa, that holds world class Boone & Crocket bucks. She now dedicates her time to making her ranch the best Whitetail Habitat.
I have been wanting to have a food plot ever since I got more into gardening and hunting. You mentioned that when planting a food plot in the fall it should have a variety of seeds. That is a great point for me to remember since deer like to have a buffet like you mentioned. Thank you for the awesome advice on food plots that I will keep in mind while looking for seeds and everything else needed.