Photo by Graham Morley / Alamy

Follow these tips to clear leaves and optimize your forest food plots.

Plots in the woods aren’t doing well.

There are two possible problems. Falling leaves might have blanketed the area, smothering young plants or preventing seeds from germinating in the first place. More likely, there just isn’t enough sunlight. Most food-plot seeds require at least five to six hours of sun to thrive.

To solve the leaf issue, rake or blow the plot periodically after planting until the plants are several inches tall. Wear rubber boots and go in at high noon when bucks won’t be nearby.

If lack of sun is the problem, consider replanting with shade-tolerant crops. These can thrive with just three to four hours of sunlight. Brassicas as well as white, berseem, and arrowleaf clover are good options, as are seed mixtures such as Whitetail Institute Secret Spot or Cabela’s Sweet Frost Blend.

Cut back bordering trees to bring in more sun and reduce the number of falling leaves. For maximum light exposure, plant plots parallel to the sun’s daily progress—say, along a logging road that runs northeast to southwest. Look for new sites with a southwesterly exposure or trim back trees for more afternoon light. A woods plot will never match one with full sunlight in production. But if you use the right plants, optimize the layout for sun exposure, and keep leaves off of delicate seedlings, it will grow well enough to entice those mature bucks that shy away from larger plots in open areas.