I have a question. First off let me say, I’m not a farmer. I have this 2+ ac field. It has a small food plot in in already. I’m thinking of converting the whole field to some type of deer forage. It’s fescue, weeds, and lots of poison ivy right now. I have a 27hp Bobcat tractor (4 wd) a 6.5’ disc, and a cultivator, plus a brush hog. I’m not sure what to put in a field that large. OR how to do it. I’m thinking of mowing it, then discing it, then give it a few weeks, and then spraying it, maybe spraying again. I might plant some taller grasses around the edges. What are some good spring plantings for deer? Just put in soybeans, corn, maybe a clover, etc.? I don’t have a drill. I’d just broadcast seed and then run the cultivator over it. Or not, if that’s not a good idea. Just drag some fencing. Just wondering what you experts might do. Thx
I plant plots as Imoore does; generic roundup (glyphosate), spread seed, mow. Preferably before rain.
In the fall I broadcast several clovers, chicory, awnless wheat, rye, alfalfa, and radishes.
Clovers include; Ladino, med red, balansa fixation, arrowleaf, etc. They will root this fall then take off next spring under the cereal grains.
The cereal grains will provide winter green immediately. Then the Awnless wheat provides a mid summer grain.
After the cereal's head out I might mow to knock weeds down. At this point the clovers, chicory, and alfalfa will be going strong. Diversity is important. When the clovers hit a dry spell in the summer the alfalfa excels. When the annual clovers petter out the chicory springs to life. Rye and wheat add organic matter to the soil, chicory mines minerals from their deep taproot to the surface. Radishes drill holes in the ground for better water infiltration. etc.
If you want quail then plant milo or beans. Both can be planted in the spring or early summer and then converted to clovers and cereal grains in the fall. If you don't have sand then you might find a pile of sand for grit can be very attractive to quail. Warning- both milo and beans won't make much grain if you have very many deer at all, or if you plant small amounts.
One scenario to consider is planting food plots with annual and multiyear plants and then transplanting in long-term food plants like trees and shrubs into the same area. This can be done over a long time period by dividing up the available space into many sections. This has been a strategy that has worked well for me.
Spray the field first with a non selective herbicide. Wait until the stuff dies, cut it back, disk it under, wait for it to green up and spray it again. Do that a few times and you will kill a lot of the weeds that will give you headaches later.
Before planting, get a soil test done and add the proper amounts of fertilizer and lime (if needed) or you will be wasting seeds, the labor and the $$ to plant them.
Here deer don't like brassicas. 12 miles away I can't get them to grow because the deer eat them as fast as they pop up out of the ground, even though the deer aren't supposed to like them until they have had a frost. Cereal Rye, Winter Wheat, etc. are all good here. Even in the ag areas where they grow beans and corn, once those fields are harvested (especially the beans) there isn't much to eat in those fields - that's when the deer will hit your food plots hard.
Being in NE Missouri, I assume you have a lot of ag in the area? I would focus more on fall-winter food sources since they will have more food than they could ever eat with the surrounding ag fields. Corn, soybeans, and clover are all good spring-fall choices, although clover typically struggles mid-summer and is better in spring and fall. In my experience, they will basically ignore the clover while the ag fields are full also, other than maybe a pass-through browsing on their way from bedding to ag field. I don't think you can beat soybeans as a summer food source. For later fall crops, I really like brassicas (can take the deer a year or two to find those) as well as cold season grains like cereal rye, winter wheat, etc.
Clover is by far the easiest to plant and maintain, IMO. I've had my best luck establishing in the fall. I spray the area once in early spring, once in early summer, and then broadcast a cover crop like buckwheat or oats. Once we start to cool down in late summer (probably August-ish in your neck of the woods), I spray the cover crop with Roundup and drive over it to knock it down (drag or roller for larger fields). Then just broadcast clover seed at a rate of 8 lb/acre into the thatch just before some rainy weather in the forecast. Once clover is established, you can spray it with glyphosate to control weeds and it won't kill the clover.
Planting brassicas grains I use the same method and planting rate. For winter grains I use the same method and broadcast 200 lb/acre if that's all I'm planting. I also use winter grains to fill in other food plots, for that just broadcast at a rate of 100 lb/acre right over the plot. If it's a taller plot of clover or other upright plants it helps to mow it to about 6" or so also. If you do cereal rye, it will come back really early in the spring and provide some food before anything else comes up.
I like my plots to be in narrow strips with cover nearby. Cover is usually thought of as trees but it can be switchgrass, standing corn, plum thickets, etc. With that said I think daylight movement is heavily based on pressure. Deer in unpressured area's typically aren't as spooky of open areas as deer that is hunted and harassed constantly.
Catscratch, thanks for the info. I planted four plots this year myself. First efforts for me. Two did very well in spite of the drought. The other two are really small and in the woods. The rye did ok, but zero turnips. I just bought the mixture that the local feed dealer was selling. Now I’m looking at converting that fescue field to “something”. I always thought crop seeds were pretty expensive. I’m guessing they must sell some that aren’t for harvest, that aren’t crazy expensive.
Setter, I usually just buy regular feed wheat and other grains for my food plots, its a lot less expensive and I dont care what kind of bushels per acre it will yield, Im just using it for a cover crop and deer attractant. I did plant a mixture of turnips, rye, winter peas and chickory, a mixture that the local feed store had, got it planted in late August in straight dust but they were predicting and we got 1 1/2 inches of rain the next day, I wound up with a beautiful green field. then I stuck a cedar tree about 30 ft in from one edge of it for a rub and a scrape. darndest thing you ever seen, they tore the tree up rubbing their antlers on it and made about 4 scrapes in all four sides of the tree, they spend a ton of time around that darn thing, I guess every buck in the country passes by under that tree. and does as well. https://i.imgur.com/ZrVb34O.jpg https://i.imgur.com/qOKcISf.jpg https://i.imgur.com/9MT8z6R.jpg
^^^What Jake said right there is the way to do it.^^^
I can't believe the prices that stores get for bagged-up floor sweepings with a "food plot mix" label stuck on it.
In August - disk up a patch of ground that's in a good spot, broadcast your seed, drag it in. Done.
If there's a stand of fescue on it I'd spray before I disk. If there's no fescue I probably wouldn't even bother to spray. A few weeds aren't going to hurt anything. And don't forget that it's just a food plot - don't work the ground until it looks like a lettuce bed - all you need to do is rough it so there's enough loose material to cover your seed when you drag it.
that cedar tree looks like it was planted at full size? Or did you plant it small and wait many years? Cedar by us grow very very slowly. It appears it is a favorite for the deer though!
Yes that's a full size tree that I dug up by the root ball with a mini excavator, and stuck in the ground, (its actually got the top cut off of it so it doesn't catch as much wind), way deep, so that it stands up straight and takes a beating. been doing that for several years now with amazing results. in the spring I will pull it up and toss it in the pond for fish cover, dual purpose, recycling.
Most grass seed needs less than a 1/2 inch depth so disk then drag. corn can be done that way too but disk it in after you broad cast it over disked ground. Shred first, then desk. Weeds will be the problem for you with clovers but there are some roundup alfalfas out there to clean it up. The poison ivy will need to be sprayed do not think desking will kill it. White tails forever may have seed mixture for your plot. Milo or millet may grow better if your in a dry area.
Food, water, and cover are the elements you want to hold deer. Multiple areas of each are best if you want to protect young bucks until they grow up. Hunt the travel roots between these areas rather than these elements if you do not want to chase the deer into other properties. This just ups the percentage of time deer will stay in your place, but will not keep them there all the time. This has worked for me.
Took this one during archery
Left this one grow more if he makes it through (along with a few others)
In Texas our usual food plot is winter wheat or oats. We also plant them for winter cattle to graze. I like to fertilize. I experimented one year. I only fertilized the middle areas. The deer walked by the outside areas to get to the fertilized parts.
Now, we have way too many pigs to plant winter food plots. They destroy everything.
Here deer don't like brassicas. 12 miles away I can't get them to grow because the deer eat them as fast as they pop up out of the ground, even though the deer aren't supposed to like them until they have had a frost.
I have seen other people post comments like this before - with other favored deer foods.
On your land, do you think there is some food source nearby that they prefer MORE than brassicas? Or does your soil produce less tasty brassicas (like the soil and environment control the taste of wine grapes)?
I honestly don't know the answer to that. According to the NRCS, the soil type is the same on both places.
I have found that deer sometimes need time to recognize new plants as food sources. It took many years of using oilseed radish as a cover crop before the deer started eating them. Once they found them, they kept eating them.