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Food Plot Prep: August Plans for Later Hunts

With the fall hunting season just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about those fall food plots that so many of us use to bring wildlife into gun range. While breaking the ground and throwing out some seed might eventually result with meat in the freezer, a little bit of planning can turn your favorite hunting spot into a wildlife beacon.

Take a Soil Sample

Soil testing is simple, inexpensive and effective. Kits can be obtained from the local county extension or Natural Resource Conservation Service offices for less than $20. When testing your soil, be sure to:

  • Collect samples to plow depth (six inches).

  • Collect multiple samples.

  • Take a soil sample for every acre. If soils vary in a food plot, take samples from each type of soil.

  • Mix the samples together and let them dry.

  • Label the container with your name and reference number and mail per instructions from your county agent.

"Many hunters only think about their fall food plots right before the season and then try to do everything at the same time," said Scott Vance, assistant vice president of conservation programs administration. "Hunters who plan ahead increase the food plot's nutritional yield and create a better area for hunting."

August is the time to ask some questions to determine the best course of action for fall. Does the food plot have a perennial such as clover left over from last year? Have you recently conducted a soil sample to learn what fertilizer levels the soil needs? What plants will provide the most amount of nutrition for the species being pursued?

While it's not quite planting time, hunters should be getting their food plots ready. Here is what hunters should be doing:

For Perennial Plots

  • Mow clover or other perennial food plots low enough for sunlight to reach the plants. As cooler weather prevails, clover will begin to grow, but it needs some sunlight.

  • Determine what annual seeds should be drilled to produce a good mix of plants for wildlife and order those seed through

For Annual Plots

  • Mow and spray herbicide such as Roundup to eliminate plants that sprung up during the summer growing season to prepare the area for later disking and planting of seed mixes such as Turkey Gold Strut & Rut mixes.

  • For a current clover plot, apply a selective herbicide that is not harmful to the legumes, followed by a light disking and fertilization with a low nitrogen fertilizer. This will normally rejuvenate the plot and create lush growth for fall use.

Food for the Soil

August is a good time to apply the recommended amount of lime to prospective spring food plots since it usually takes a few months for the lime to break down depending on the soil type and moisture. It is also a good idea to incorporate the lime into the soil to reduce the amount of time for the lime to be effective in reducing soil acidity (raising the pH level). A corrected pH will result in more efficient uptake of nutrients from the soil and provide healthier food plots. A fall application of lime followed by spring fertilization at the time of planting will provide the best results. Fall planted plots will also receive the benefits of a previous year's fall application of lime.




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