There’s more to a successful, productive food plot than clearing a patch of dirt and throwing down some seed. Where you plant a plot can mean the difference between success and failure. That’s why it’s critical to choose the right location for your food plots and match the seed to the soil and the growing conditions.
All food plot plants require direct sunlight to grow and flourish, but a few require more than others. That’s one reason many food plot plants fail. They don’t get enough sun. Those in deep woods or along field edges adjacent to tall trees are most vulnerable to heavy shading.
Some plants like white clover and brassicas, are more shade-tolerant than others, so they are a good choice. Both, however, require at least four hours of direct sunlight to reach their maximum potential. Consider cutting down trees or trimming branches that cast midday shade on your plots. Or find a different location.
Dry or Wet?
With so many choices, it’s easy to find the right plant for just about every spot, so don’t try to grow something where it won’t grow. Some plants just don’t do well in dry, sandy soils, while others flourish. Clovers, for example, have relatively shallow roots. They do best in heavy soil that holds moisture. Low ground along a river is a great place to plant a clover plot.
Deep-rooted plants, like turnips and other brassicas, are excellent choices for slopes, loose, sandy soil and other well-drained spots. Even when water runs off quickly, the deep roots reach far into the soil to absorb moisture.
Some soil just isn’t conducive to growing healthy plants. The best way to find out if your chosen site will work is to conduct a soil test. Your local agriculture extension office may offer soil test kits for a small fee, and a number of commercial test kits are available for under $20. They’ll tell you how much lime and how much of each nutrient you’ll need to grow a specific plant. In the most extreme cases, the chosen site may be too poor to even bother.
Out of Sight
Deer like to feel secure when they eat, and deer hunters don’t like providing easy opportunities for poachers. That’s why it’s never a good idea to plant a plot within sight of a road. Spotlighters can take advantage of the location and deer don’t always acclimate to the constant presence of traffic. If you don’t have a choice, plant some sort of screen. Pines can serve that purpose, but consider wildlife-friendly shrubs like bicolor lespedeza, indigobush and other beneficial plants.