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Tips For Better Food Plots From a Farmer

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April 23, 2012

Tips For Better Food Plots From a Farmer

By Scott Bestul


I learned something important about food plots last summer; if you want to learn how to make stuff grow, ask a farmer. The clover plot I’m kneeling in here is Exhibit 3203 in a file I keep titled, “I’m not slow, things just take me a long time.” I’ve been planting clover with varying degrees of success for the past several seasons. Last summer, I asked the guy who owns this property—who happens to be a neighbor and bowhunting buddy—for help in establishing a clover plot in this little field. Alan, a successful farmer, jumped right in with both expertise and equipment. Here’s what he taught me.

1.) Manure is your friend: There’s a bunch of fertilizer options out there, but dairy cows pump out a fine organic product. Plus, a lot of farmers are looking for places to spread the stuff. Alan’s dad backed up a spreader and loaded this field up--twice.

2.) Timing is everything: Alan decided to plant the clover late last summer. This insures most weeds are done throwing seed for the season, which reduces competition and lets the good stuff get a head start.

3.) Mowing: The clover jumped out of the ground last August, and was growing pretty well. Still, there were problem patches where weed seeds managed to sprout and succeed. Rather than spray these spots (expensive and possibly harmful to clover) Alan just brought in a mower in and clipped the entire plot. The weeds died, the clover bounced back, and when spring came, the clover did so well that it is now crowding out everything else. There are clearly a few dandelions in the field, but overall, this is one of the best pure clover stands I’ve ever been able to pull off.

The cool thing, of course, is that deer and turkeys are just hammering this spot. Several areas in this plot show signs of heavy grazing, and I’ve glassed a couple of strutters following hens around the clover, especially when the afternoon sun hits it. And you can believe this or not, but I honestly don’t care if I ever shoot a buck or a bird here. I just like knowing it’s there for wildlife whenever need be. Besides, it’s just pretty to look at and it’s fun to know I had a hand in producing it--with a lot of help from an expert.

Comments (13)

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from Proverbs wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Great point about mowing instead of spraying to deal with weed problems. Most chemical srays can stay in the soil for a few years, and hurt crop growth for a few years after the application.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

you're gonna have some serious hunting over that food plot!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

There's a herbicide called Poast that's hell on grasses but is harmless to clover, and other legumes. It aint exactly cheap but a little goes a long way, about 10-12 oz. to the acre as I recall. In the south we plant our clover much later, around October when most of the warm season weeds are done. Planting it thick helps with competition but down here the winter rye always seems to find its way in, which is where the Poast comes in handy. Another handy tip is to test your soil pH. Often times people plant the high dollar perennial varieties and fertilize but don't get much of a stand because they didn't lime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

There's a herbicide called Poast that's hell on grasses but is harmless to clover, and other legumes. It aint exactly cheap but a little goes a long way, about 10-12 oz. to the acre as I recall. In the south we plant our clover much later, around October when most of the warm season weeds are done. Planting it thick helps with competition but down here the winter rye always seems to find its way in, which is where the Poast comes in handy. Another handy tip is to test your soil pH. Often times people plant the high dollar perennial varieties and fertilize but don't get much of a stand because they didn't lime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

sorry about the double post, curse my sh*tty internet connection and my own impatience.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Here in Missouri the local farmers' co-op recommends using Clethodim at the rate of 8 oz./acre along with Astute at the rate of 1 oz./10 gallons of water to use on ladino clover. Kills weeds and grasses but is harmless to the clover. Due to the weather this spring, the clover is tall enough to hide a feeding turkey. Watching the wildlife year round utilize something you've planted just for them has its own rewards, something you appear to have found out already, Scott.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Might as well abandon the pretense and just put out buckets of food.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

I've had excellent advice from several friends who are farmers. In addition to a soil test, and using adequate lime, 1. Use the right seed for your area. 2. Use enough fertilizer for the amount of seed you put out per acre. 3. Don't plant your seed too deep and use a cultipacker if at all possible. 4. Plant at the right time of year. 5. Pray for rain.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hank111 wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Oh Mike....you just don't get it. Not all foodplots are planted to kill over. It's fun to just put the sweat into something on your own land and see the results, some thing you won't get from putting out feed. If I have an area thats just cool season brome grass, no value to deer and turkeys, I am gonna kill it off and seed it to legumes or warm season tall native grasses. I want every inch of the farm to be either good cover or food.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

"Oh Mike....you just don't get it."

Yeah, I do.

"Not all foodplots are planted to kill over."

Yeah, they are.

"It's fun to just put the sweat into something on your own land and see the results"

I agree. It's called farming or, if the plot is small, gardening. If the plot is to attract game, it's called "baiting."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harding7 wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

Not everyone does everything for an ulterior motive. If so, people wouldn't put out birdseed for local birds to watch them rather than 'kill' them as you would want to believe.

I've put out plots to help sustain the wildlife in my land and haven't hunted the land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Lookintothesun02 wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

Mike- you are sorely mistaken. I rarely (once every few years) hunt turkey. Yet i plant food plots for turkey.
Yes i also plant them for deer (which i hunt but not over the food plots). I do this because I like seeing the animals a lot more than i like killing them, and i am generally concerned about their well-being. I want them to have the best available nutrition so they can be as healthy as they can. Thats what planting food plots is about. Not just killing (although i imagine it would be gratifying to harvest an animal over something you created). Perhaps this is an idea that you just dont grasp.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Don Gutierrez wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

I have been hunting my 40 acre land for 4 years now and the first year it was hunted, I decided to try planting a white clover and forage rape on a small 15yrd by 30 yrd spot. I had deer mostly (doe) feeding on the clover, and ever since then I have not seen many deer at all on the property. there are three small spots about 100 yards from each other that I could plant food plots, I just don't know what I should plant or how to mix what seeds with what? I try to read what others say worked for them but it's just not that easy. any ideas?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Here in Missouri the local farmers' co-op recommends using Clethodim at the rate of 8 oz./acre along with Astute at the rate of 1 oz./10 gallons of water to use on ladino clover. Kills weeds and grasses but is harmless to the clover. Due to the weather this spring, the clover is tall enough to hide a feeding turkey. Watching the wildlife year round utilize something you've planted just for them has its own rewards, something you appear to have found out already, Scott.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Great point about mowing instead of spraying to deal with weed problems. Most chemical srays can stay in the soil for a few years, and hurt crop growth for a few years after the application.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

you're gonna have some serious hunting over that food plot!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

There's a herbicide called Poast that's hell on grasses but is harmless to clover, and other legumes. It aint exactly cheap but a little goes a long way, about 10-12 oz. to the acre as I recall. In the south we plant our clover much later, around October when most of the warm season weeds are done. Planting it thick helps with competition but down here the winter rye always seems to find its way in, which is where the Poast comes in handy. Another handy tip is to test your soil pH. Often times people plant the high dollar perennial varieties and fertilize but don't get much of a stand because they didn't lime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

There's a herbicide called Poast that's hell on grasses but is harmless to clover, and other legumes. It aint exactly cheap but a little goes a long way, about 10-12 oz. to the acre as I recall. In the south we plant our clover much later, around October when most of the warm season weeds are done. Planting it thick helps with competition but down here the winter rye always seems to find its way in, which is where the Poast comes in handy. Another handy tip is to test your soil pH. Often times people plant the high dollar perennial varieties and fertilize but don't get much of a stand because they didn't lime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

sorry about the double post, curse my sh*tty internet connection and my own impatience.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

I've had excellent advice from several friends who are farmers. In addition to a soil test, and using adequate lime, 1. Use the right seed for your area. 2. Use enough fertilizer for the amount of seed you put out per acre. 3. Don't plant your seed too deep and use a cultipacker if at all possible. 4. Plant at the right time of year. 5. Pray for rain.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hank111 wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Oh Mike....you just don't get it. Not all foodplots are planted to kill over. It's fun to just put the sweat into something on your own land and see the results, some thing you won't get from putting out feed. If I have an area thats just cool season brome grass, no value to deer and turkeys, I am gonna kill it off and seed it to legumes or warm season tall native grasses. I want every inch of the farm to be either good cover or food.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harding7 wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

Not everyone does everything for an ulterior motive. If so, people wouldn't put out birdseed for local birds to watch them rather than 'kill' them as you would want to believe.

I've put out plots to help sustain the wildlife in my land and haven't hunted the land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Lookintothesun02 wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

Mike- you are sorely mistaken. I rarely (once every few years) hunt turkey. Yet i plant food plots for turkey.
Yes i also plant them for deer (which i hunt but not over the food plots). I do this because I like seeing the animals a lot more than i like killing them, and i am generally concerned about their well-being. I want them to have the best available nutrition so they can be as healthy as they can. Thats what planting food plots is about. Not just killing (although i imagine it would be gratifying to harvest an animal over something you created). Perhaps this is an idea that you just dont grasp.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Don Gutierrez wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

I have been hunting my 40 acre land for 4 years now and the first year it was hunted, I decided to try planting a white clover and forage rape on a small 15yrd by 30 yrd spot. I had deer mostly (doe) feeding on the clover, and ever since then I have not seen many deer at all on the property. there are three small spots about 100 yards from each other that I could plant food plots, I just don't know what I should plant or how to mix what seeds with what? I try to read what others say worked for them but it's just not that easy. any ideas?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

Might as well abandon the pretense and just put out buckets of food.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

"Oh Mike....you just don't get it."

Yeah, I do.

"Not all foodplots are planted to kill over."

Yeah, they are.

"It's fun to just put the sweat into something on your own land and see the results"

I agree. It's called farming or, if the plot is small, gardening. If the plot is to attract game, it's called "baiting."

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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