Now is the time to prepare for your fall planting, and in some areas, planting should be started right away.
For a fall planting strategy, we talked to Donnie Buckland, NWTF grasslands/ag manager. Everything needs a plan to be successful, and that is where Buckland suggests landowners start.
Take a stroll through your property taking either a physical or mental inventory. Plan exactly what and where you will be planting this fall, as where to plant is nearly as important as what to plant. If you have them, clean up logging decks to make a food plot and water source. Areas along wood edges and existing fields are good places for food plots.
“Fall also is a good time to cut firebreaks,” Buckland said. “Those fire breaks can be a good place to plant a small linear food plot.”
It also is a good time to consider what you may want to plant next spring. Many nurseries quickly run out of popular tree and plant varieties in the spring, which is why now is the perfect time to not only plan but also order those spring fruit trees.
Another important part to habitat and food plot success is a soil test. If you have not tested your soil, or it has been several years, it is a good idea to take care of this task early. Buckland said most states have extension services, which are a great resource for cost-friendly soil testing. Better soil management equals a better crop.
“The process is simple,” Buckland said, “usually consisting of taking a few samples from various parts of your property, mixing them together for a final combined sample to send off to be analyzed.” Complete instructions for soil samples are included in testing kits.
One of the more important results from soil testing, Buckland says, is learning your soil’s PH levels.
“When it comes to what to plant, the lists of brands to choose from and the choices within those brands can be quite confusing,” Buckland said. While most “blends” of seeds are geared toward specific species you will want to hunt, sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go.
“Winter wheat is a great choice for a variety of species,” Buckland said. “Overseeding that with clover makes an ideal smorgasbord for poults and quail chicks with the insects the clover will attract. Plus, the wheat will provide shelter for the hens and poults as they graze.”
Finally, gazing at surrounding properties on aerial maps can give you an overview of what those properties offer wildlife.
“Wildlife are pretty mobile, but you can enhance your property to increase their use by taking small steps in the fall,” Buckland said.