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The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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Tuesday, 05 March 2013 16:09

Food Plot Planting and Management for Wildlife

We at Shotem and Caughtem are starting to get things prepped for food plot planting season.  Any experienced hunter knows that a successful food plot can not only help lure game to their property but also provide conservation measures to ensure wildlife populations.  There are many products available that will help to create and manage your food plot, but we have also found some alternative seed sources and practices that might aid in creating a successful habitat source for wildlife on your property.  

First rule of a successful food plot, location, location, location.  All wildlife need the three basics.  Water, food and shelter.  They also like to have all these close to one another in order to avoid predators.  If a person plants a food plot away from any of these three factors it will more than likely not gain you anything when it comes to wildlife.  Therefore pick or clear a spot where your wildlife can take advantage of all three neccessities without having to subject themselves to stress from predators.  A quarter to half an acre food plot per 25 acres seems to be the going rule from what we have learned.  It should be located next to a shelter belt with good cover and close to a water source.

Second rule is prep.  A well disced area that has been provided the appropriate nutrients prior to planting will provide the best results.  Planting seed right before a nice rain will also aid in germination of your crop.  Many methods can work when it comes to planting.  Row planting and or broadcasting seed can both be advantageous for different reason.  Broadcasting can give you a little bit of everything spread out acroos your food plot.  Row cropping allows you to stagger crops according to heights and nutreints giving wildlife different paths to maneuvour, eat and nest throughout your food plot.     

The third rule is planting the right seed at the right time.  Though many hunters have a specific animal they like to hunt and plant only for that animal a successful food plot should take note that animals are social and prefer to use one another as a helper to ward off predators.  A good variety of seeds to manage multiple species provides cover and food sources for all to enjoy.  

Corn is a top priority for its nutrients and is a universal food source for most wildlife.  The disadvantage is that it takes more water to grow and the appropriate soil nutrients.  Milo and millet provides nutrients for birds and cover for nesting.  Sunflowers and wild flowers are also a good resource for birds and also provides bugs for turkey.  Many seed stores and retail companies provide a good mixture of different seed to make a good food plot.  Getting to know some of the people at a local grain elevator is an easy way to get what you need on the cheap.  Many Coop's might trade your labor cleaning out grain pits for the seed you recover doing this task but doesn't allow you to be picky.    

Below is a chart you can use for planting different crops, amount needed and the times of year that planting them works best.  A good rule is to leave what you plant around all year long so that the wildlife begins to recognize your property as a good resource.  Though food plots are not a one in done solution, they can provide a wildlife friendly habitat that requires less money and maintenance than stocking a feeder all year long.  It also insures that your habitat will flourish with wildlife that you can enjoy seeing even when they are out of their respected hunting seasons.  As always let us know what has worked for you in the Gear section or comment below.

Planting guide for wildlife food plots.

Crop Species                              Seeding Rate (lbs/ac)                         Planting Date

Cool-Season Legumes 

                                                                                                                                                                  
Alsike clover (perennial)                                10                                             Sept. 1 - Oct 1

Arrowleaf clover (annual)                               10                                             Aug 15 - Oct 1

Ball clover (annual)                                        5                                              Aug 15 - Oct 1

Berseem clover (annual)                                 20                                             Aug 15 - Oct 1

Crimson clover (annual)                                  25                                             Aug 15 - Oct 1

Ladino white clover (perennial)                         8                                              Sept 1 - Oct 1; Feb 15 - Apr 1

Red clover (biennial)                                      15                                             Sept. 1 - Oct 1; Feb 15 - Apr 1

Rose clover (annual)                                      20                                             Aug 15 - Oct 1  

Subterranean clover (annual)                           15                                             Aug 15 - Oct 1

White-dutch clover (perennial)                          6                                              Sept 1 - Oct 1; Feb 15 - Apr 1

Sweetclover, yellow or white (biennial)               20                                            Sept 1 - Oct 1; Feb 15 - Apr 1

Alfalfa (perennial)                                           20                                            Aug 15 - Sept 15; Mar 1 - May 1

Austrian winter peas (annual)                            50                                            Aug 15 - Oct 1

Birdsfoot trefoil (perennial)                               10                                            Aug 15 - Oct 1; Feb 20 - Apr 1

   
Cool-Season Grasses

Oats (annual)                                                100                                            Sept 1 - Oct 15; Feb 15 - Mar 15

Rye (annual)                                                 100                                            Sept 1 - Oct 15

Triticale (annual)                                           100                                            Sept 1 - Oct 15

Wheat (annual)                                              100                                            Aug 15 - Oct 15

Ryegrass (annual or perennial)                          30                                            Aug 15 - Oct 15; Feb 15 - Apr 1


Warm-Season Legumes

Alyceclover (annual)                                        20                                            Apr 1 - June 1

American jointvetch (annual)                             15                                            Apr 1 - June 1

Catjang cowpeas (annual)                                 30                                            Apr 1 - June 15

Iron-clay cowpeas (annual)                               75                                            May 1 - June 15

Lablab (annual)                                               20                                            May 1 - June 15

Soybeans (annual)                                           85                                            May 1 - June 15

Re-seeding soybeans (annual)                            40                                            May 1 - June 15

Kobe and Korean lespedeza (annual)                   30                                            Feb 15 - Mar 15

Partridge pea (annual)                                      15                                            Mar 1 - June 1


Warm-Season Grasses

Corn (annual)                                                  13                                            Apr 1 - May 15

Grain sorghum (milo) (annual)                            10                                            Apr 15 - June 15

Egyptian wheat (annual)                                    15                                            Apr 15 - June 15

Browntop millet (annual)                                    30                                           Apr 15 - June 15

German (foxtail) millet (annual)                          25                                           Apr 15 - June 15

Japanese millet (annual)                                    25                                           May 1 - Aug 31
 
Pearl millet (annual)                                          30                                           Apr 15 - June 15

Dove proso millet (annual)                                  35                                           Apr 15 - June 15

White proso millet (annual)                                 35                                           Apr 15 - June 15


Other Plantings

Buckwheat (annual; warm-season)                       40                                            Apr 15 - June 1

Chicory (perennial; cool-season)                          10                                           Apr 1 -May 15

Chufa (annual; warm-season)                              50                                            Apr 15 - June 15

Rape (annual; cool-season)                                  8                                            May 1 - May 15; Aug 15 - Oct 1

Sesame (annual; warm-season)                            12                                           Apr 15 - June 1

Sunflower (annual; warm-season)                          25                                          Apr 15 - May 15

Turnips (annual; cool-season)                                8                                           Mar 1 - May 15; Aug 15 - Oct 1