Planting on a Budget

When your budget is tight, cutting out extra items just seems natural. There are many things hunters choose to cut back on when times are tough but to cut corners, you don’t have to cut out your food plots. There are ways to save your hopes of drawing longbeards and big bucks to your area on a budget.

Site Choices:
Not every hunter has extra land just lying around waiting to be turned into a food plot, and land is an enormous investment. But food plots don’t have to be huge to be effective. Clearing small, unused areas on your property, whether it’s on a ridge top or at the edge of a field, can be ample for small improvements.

Seed Choice:
One look at the cost of some of the seed mixes available and your budget can implode. Planting winter wheat instead of higher priced seeds may be a good compromise. Last fall, the price of a 50-pound bag of winter wheat was as low as $12, and it takes only 75-100 pounds per acre to get a good stand. NWTF members can purchase exclusive products Mossy Oak BioLogic and Nativ Nurseries here

Site Preparation:
Next to choosing your seed, site preparation is the most important part of planting a good food plot. Winter wheat requires a planting depth of around two inches, so deep plowing isn’t necessary. That saves time and money. Prepare the ground with a small disk and remove roots, rocks and other debris that emerge from the ground. After the ground is prepared and the seed is broadcasted, lightly drag the ground with a treetop or small log to cover the seed.

Timing is Everything:
Winter wheat is adaptable to most regions and can be planted at nearly any time of the year with exception to the dead of winter or during a summer drought. The optimal time to plant most seeds is early spring or early fall. Planting winter wheat in the fall will benefit deer and other wildlife throughout the winter because it stays green. Plant your seeds from early September through mid-October, so the seedlings have time to develop mature roots before winter sets in. The forage will satisfy the deer, and when the plants mature in mid-spring the following year, the turkeys will make a feast of the seed heads. Spring planting from March through April will provide forage during the summer months, and the seeds will mature just in time for fall turkey season.

There is no doubt that we are experiencing tough economic times, but before you scratch your food plot plans, consider the low-cost option of winter wheat and similar options to provide the habitat wildlife will be looking for.

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