The best tips to getting your food plots ready this fall

Published 6:06 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

By Ty Torrance

Hopefully you have already gotten started on your food plots, but for those of you who are running a little late, this will be perfect. It is getting to be that time of year when fall food plots are planted in hopes of bagging the whitetail that you have been seeing on your game camera. There are several things you need to do before buying seed and getting the dirt worked up.

The number one thing that needs to be done is a soil testing. You do not want to buy some high priced seed and fertilizer just to have a poor stand because you didn’t want to spend a few bucks on a soil test. Be sure to collect random samples from all of your different fields. Samples should be taken to the plow depth or about 6-8”.

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Take several samples from each field and combine them in a plastic bucket. This will ensure a more uniform test result for the entire field. It is beneficial to soil test early because if lime is required it can take up to three months for it to bring the pH to the desired level. Does that mean if you are week away from planting you shouldn’t even bother with the lime? No, it will still be beneficial even if applied late. On land that was once forested or in planted pines you will almost always need to apply at least a ton of lime per acre.

Once soil tests have been taken and lime applied, you can use a set of disk harrows to incorporate the lime. It is a good practice to prepare the soil well ahead of planting. This allows the dirt to settle and makes a much better seedbed. Preparing the soil early will also allow weed seeds to germinate.

You might wonder why this is a good thing. When the weeds in the plot germinate you can use a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate and kill the majority of the weeds. This will give you a fairly clean seedbed with minimal soil disturbance and reduce the weeds that emerge with your selected wildlife crop. Another good way to reduce weed competition in food plots is to plant a little more seed than the recommended rate. This will allow the desired plants to shade out any unwanted weeds. More seed will also give you a better chance at a full stand in case you get poor germination.

Next week I will talk a little more on soil fertility and crops for food plots like wheat, oats, clover, and other legumes. Feel free to call if you have any questions (229) 248-3033.