Successful Food Plots Part III: Choosing a Forage
A properly implemented food plot program will be beneficial for more than just whitetails. There is a great possibility that wild turkey, dove, quail, and even some predator species will, at some point, be spotted using your plots. They are communal feeding areas and that’s why they’re fun to hunt.
One of the most common mistakes a land manger will make is to throw out a generic seed blend and hope for the best. If done correctly, the proper seed will attract a variety of wildlife but a variety of seeds will not attract all types of wildlife. There are a few things to consider before grabbing some random seed mixture off the shelves on clearance, planting, and expecting to see wildlife.
What does your area average precipitation-wise on an annual basis? What is the normal temperature depending on the planting season? You may be surprised in the difference in weather patterns between South Carolina and Virginia, and everywhere in between. These are relatively simple questions to answer but it is best to plan ahead and take that information into account before planting. Be sure to find a forage that will produce in the climate you reside in. A seed blend designed for the Texas heat won’t flourish in a low-lying eastern NC swamp bottom.
A forage that is suitable for a reclaimed logging road may not be suitable for an open field. On most seed bags it will state whether or not the particular forage is shade tolerant or shade intolerant. This is on the bag for a reason! Pay attention to it and where you plan to plant. The depth at which a seed should be planted should also be taken into consideration. In some cases, the soils may be more compacted than others, so be sure to make every effort to pick a forage that is compatible with the planting area. The depth and the shade tolerance are both easy to figure out but if you neglect them, they can cause a food plot to fail miserably.
Time of Year:
While we typically think of the spring as a time to plant food plot forages, there are many planting times for various types of forages. Forage maturation varies greatly, as does the planting times. If you have a systematic management plan, you probably have at least two types of forages planted on your property for diversity reasons. There’s a good possibility that not all of your food plots can be planted in a single weekend. There is no need to rush it and attempt to get them done ASAP.
Take the time this year to plan out all of the aforementioned topics this year for the best food plot results. You don’t have to own a couple hundred acres to have a successful food plots. You simply need to make a plan and stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.