Whether you own your own land, paying your dues to hunt someone else’s or volunteering to make habitat better for the public on WMAs, planting in the mid-to-late summer can bring an influx of game to the property, including deer and turkeys. Don’t wait until it’s too late, follow these three quick tips for mid-to-late summer planting.
Planning out exactly how you envision your food plot(s) and knowing what fertilizers, seeds and herbicides you might need ahead of time will save you a headache if you try to do it all in one day.
One of the best things you can do ahead of time is to get a soil sample. This will give you a good idea of your soil’s fertility and if it will need any amendments. Mossy Oak offers a free soil test with a $50 purchase, or you can contact your local cooperative extension. Getting a soil sample test is as simple as shoveling a scoop of dirt into a small bag and putting it in the mailbox.
Planning ahead also includes maintaining the area before you plant. Mowing or spaying down any woody or invasive species will ensure clean, uniform food plot in the fall.
Whether you’re no tilling or plowing, keeping the area maintained prior to seeding will save you time and energy. If you’re plowing, try to plow about two weeks ahead of time; trying to plow and seed in the same day leads to poor gemination rates. If you’re no tilling, give your herbicides some time to work before seeding.
Blending is Best
Planting a seed blend opposed to a monoculture keeps game coming well into the spring, as one variety is at optimal nutrition at one point in the year and others at different times.
“With planting seed blends, make sure that all seeds are around the same size and can be planted at the same soil depth.” said Travis Sumner, NWTF Hunting Heritage Center and habitat manager. “Most blends will have small seeds such as clovers and brassicas that only need to be covered 1/4 inch depth. The other seeds found in most blends, including wheat, oats and winter peas will be covered about 1/2 inch to 1 inch. If the small seeds get covered too deep, they won’t come up. This can also happen when you no-till. It’s better to plant your deep seeds at their depth and top sow and culti-pack small seeds.”
Keep the diversity going by planting different varieties of seeds in different areas.
“Brassicas, clover, wheat and oats are all staples,” Sumner said. “Seek plantings that will be high in protein and help provide energy during the fall and winter months. These varieties will mature at different times in the fall. So, you have continued usage of your plots.”
Avoid rye grass if possible. It can become a headache down the road. Over a couple of years it will take over a plot and compete with the desired species you want to grow. Rye grain is okay, however.
Fertilize based on the results of your soil sample. If your soil is acidic, spreading some lime prior to planting could make all the difference. Fertilizing will likely increase your overall cost, but if you want to ensure your time and energy in creating a food plot is worth it, fertilize. You and the wildlife will be happy you did.
“Proper fertilization ensures you get optimal growth,” Sumner said. “This will also make the plants more palatable to deer. Fertilizing and proper liming are just like having the correct amount of salt and pepper on your food. It makes it taste better.”
Get the seed for your land management project through NWTF Seed Programs. Availability of certain programs dependent on state participation.