New to Food Plots

Discussion in 'Whitetail Deer Habitat' started by Hunt4Fun, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. Currently, I hunt on a farm and have recieved the ok to plant a small food plot in an unused pasture up in a finger of a valley. The place for the plot is actually a draw that is covered on 3 sides by woods. Most of the native plants are tall grass (which we typically mow early summer). The clover then takes over the area we mow:biggrin: This location also has an incline up the draw which I am concerned with errosion if I remove the current vegitation and plant new. The farmer, and others around, have a good variety of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, winter wheat, etc. I would like this plot for hunting in late fall and winter more than for nutritional quality in the summer. Questions I have are:

    1. I have heard of some of these "no till" formulas of forages. What is the good (or bad) word on these being planted in an area like this?

    2. Can I just mow the native vegitation, lime/fertize as necessary, plant seeds and hope to see growth that will rival the local grasses (I like the clover, so that is a plus)?

    3. And finally, if this pasture is used in the future, any idea on how the livestock might take to my plot? I was planning for late season Brassicas with clover to ignite the plot in early spring. Might this be all for not if the "cows come home"?
  2. Never did any planting with the no till mixes, but I'll comment on a few of your other questions.

    I've noticed that in old pasture where I mow trails that clover seems to some up well on it's own in areas that get get some partial shade. One area was all goldenrod and now is probably over half clover is a section that 4 years of repeated mowing has pretty much reduced to grass and clover. Out in the open along the top of my hill it's a different story. What isn't grass is growing thistle and knapweed on my trail (or it tries to and than gets mowed down again) My neighbor still runs cows in his field and the only thing they don't touch is the thistle, so a seed source is always close by unfortunately.

    When the cows get out the first place they go on my land is hang out in a 1/2 acre plot that is clover and chicory. They would trample it pretty good if they didn't get shooed off after a week or so when someone finally notices the cows are wandering around again.

  3. I think I might have a fix for if the cows were to reclaim the field. There is an access road that runs about 300 yards across the field from one of our blinds. That might be my fall back. That road does not get much traffic and seems to get a lot of deer sign. Cleaning up the field edge to allow more light to the trail might give me a good place to allow deer to eat and feel safe.

    But for now, I still have ill feelings about broadcasting the seeds and hoping that they will take hold. I probably could spray in the spring with Roundup to kill the grasses and then spread the clover/chicory blend. I don't want barron ground because of possible errosion issues. Clover that is already there will be set back by the Roundup but might bounce back to help the budding new crop. I am thinking of having a 1/4 acre of clover and chicory and then in August, planting another 1/4 acre in brassicas and turnips to start.
  4. kurtish

    kurtish Guest

    I have no tilled brassicas with some success. It really comes down to how much thatch is there and how much rain you get the week after planting. I mow, spray, and then broadcast seed into the killed sod. If the sod is sparse and you can see some bare soil it works great, if the thatch is thick you will need a week of rain to ensure that the germinating seed has time to set roots before it experiences dry weather.
    Cattle would probably raise heck with brassicas, but I'm not sure as I've never dealt with them in my plots. Good luck
  5. I think I will try in the spring to get on the mower and get the field cleaned up early. In years past, we have waited till summer to mow and the grasses are always more abundant than the clover. Maybe getting out early will stunt the grasses and the clover will take over.

    Is it best to wait till the field is established before the first cut of the year or does it matter?

    My plan is to cut two areas, both about 1/4 to 1/3 acre each, and see how they do with getting the native clover to establish. One plot I will change to Brassicas for the fall by cutting and seeding.

    Does size of plant matter for cutting or just do it at a particular to time to encourage growth?

    Anyone had good results with the existing clover recovering from a Roundup application meant to kill the grasses?
  6. I'll start mowing when the grasses hit about 10 inches tall and early on I'll mow down to about 6" or however low I can get my brushhog. The clovers will green up early but won't be that tall yet. Later as the clover starts to flower, I'll mow a little higher and try to keep the flowers from getting cut. I'm not trying for fresh clover growth for critters to eat, I'm trying to get the clover to mature and put out some seed. A couple of weeks or so after the flowers are all brown, I'll mow lower again and hopefully spread stuff around. I did this last year prior to some logging being done in late summer and in the bare spots this spring where the logging skidder wore a path it came up great with almost all clover when the rains kicked in.

    Heard about the Roundup routine at reduced strength to kill grass and clover should come back but have not tried yet. Might do that in mid May or so next year in an area that grass and weeds are getting a little thick. The clover has been there for several years and if it doesn't work, probably about time to switch and put in something that starts to use all the N added from the clover anyway and not a big deal if clover croaks