Solid crops of grains, such as sorghum and wheat, or sunflowers, beans and greens are effective food plot fodder and traditionally provide a solid food source and gathering spot for wild turkeys, deer and other species. These single-crop food plots are the norm because many believe them to be cheaper and require less work. Adding some diversity to your plots, however, isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and in the long run, it extends the viability of your plots and makes them more attractive to a larger variety of wildlife.
Commercial wildlife blends are an easy fix. These pre-mixed seed packs contain several plant types that grow well together and ensure their nutrient needs complement each other rather than compete. Blends are available for all seasonal plantings and targeted species and remove a lot of the guess work on what to plant and when. The downside is many of these commercial wildlife blends are expensive, which could put them outside of the budget of a small club or individual, especially if the plot sizes are larger than half an acre.
Mixing your own blends is a less costly alternative, but you should have a good understanding of which plants can be combined, what type of soil preparation and planting works for all, and most importantly, when is the ideal time to plant them so they mature at the correct time.
Reaching out to resources such as your local agricultural extension office or even an NWTF wildlife biologist will provide the information you need to create and cultivate your blended food plots efficiently and effectively, especially if your goal is to create a blend with a number of plant types. They also can help you with timing your planting depending on the targeted species or time of year.
Simple blends of two or three crop species are less difficult to pull off, and often provide similar results to more complicated blends. Plus, you’ll save money, time and energy..
An easy, fool-proof mix would be planting a nitrogen-hungry grass/grain crop, such as wheat, rye or sorghum, which thrive when combined with a nitrogen-fixing legume, such as clover or beans. Grasses/grains provide an early greening cover-crop, allowing the legumes to grow beneath that cover and mature while wildlife browse the taller crop. Using clover as your legume makes planting even easier, as clover can be top-sown after the cover-crop germinates without having to disturb the soil.
Whether you go with a commercial blend or a do-it-yourself recipe, adding diversity to your food plots will make them more appealing and extends the life of the plot as well as your hunting opportunities.