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Food Plot Basics

Discussion in 'Hunting & Fishing' started by Deer Slayer, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    The application of some MIRACLE GROW and a biological stimulant plus 2 1/8" of rain has jump started the clover patches in Okla Co. MIRACLE GROW is fine to add to your food plots instead of traditional fertilizer if you have a spray rig because you get some added trace minerals such as boron. A boron deficiency in your clover plots showes up as a red tint to some of your leaves. It is easy to correct. I mix 1 tube of MIRACLE GROW to 15-25 gallons of water and spray on 1 acre. You can spray it on a 1/4 acre plot and it is gonna do mucha beta.

    I am doing some research on planting radishes, a brassicca this fall in my food plots. Reports I have seen indicate that at peak they will have up to 46% protein in their leaves. The protein level at maturity is around 20% for the leaves and 23% in the root which may grow as deep as 18" or deeper. When the plant dies and rots it provides a great source of nitrogen for the soil AND it leaves a bigt hole in the ground to allow for better water absorption. Ross Seed in El Reno,405/262-3456 has them in stock. I believe this is the first year that they are carrying this variety. This radish appears to be something new that shows tremendous potential for late season attraction of deer plus benefit to the soil.

    You plant the radish just as you would turnips. Till,broadcast, fertilize and pack. The plant rate is no more than 3 pounds/ acre when added to your existing seed blends. 5 pounds/acre if you plant it exclusively. I think it is a safe bet that no one will be planting something like this on their lease or farm. So if you add this to your bag of tricks this year you may have your own secret ace in the hole. I know that where I hunt no one will be planting it but me. Give it a try I think you will be pleased.
     
  2. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    What should we plant in our plot depends on a few questions getting answered. What is our goal in planting a food plot? Is it to just spray out some seed and pray it comes up without giving any thought or effort to soil conditions or annual rainfall? Then go with wheat, triticale, oats and some rye. Its cheap and does not take much effort.

    In contrast, a well thought out series of food plots that has a variety of different plants that mature at different times of the season and benefit the deer accordingly with control the most deer. The previous "spray and pray" effort will attract some deer but up against a well managed set of plots there is little contest.

    Is the soil sandy? sandy loam? loam? clay? sandy loam with areas of clay?

    Is the area well drained or stands water? moist most of the year due to
    seepage from hillside? marshy?

    What is the annual rainfall? 15-18", 30 - 36", 55- 65".

    What is soil pH?

    When these questions are answered then a well thought out plan can be put together. The end result will be that you may wonder where all the deer went to OR "JEEPERS CREEPERS, I did not realize that we had that many deer and bunches of good bucks around the area. Your choice. A 20 acre piece of property with 3 to 5 acres in well managed food plots will hold deer most all year and turkeys too. After 2 years of management the family units will have set up shop and you get the added benefit of watching the fawns grow up.

    Next post will be some examples of the above referenced pieces of property.

    Any questions?
     
  3. r00s7a

    r00s7a Sharpshooter

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    I'll give you some of my raw data from my soil samples for advice on what to plant. I have two plots on one piece of property.

    Plot #1
    This is below the dam of a 25 acre lake, somewhat of a low lying area, but does not hold water. Dark, loam/sandy loam soil.

    pH - 6.1
    Buffer Index - 6.8
    NO3 - 0
    P - 14 Deficient
    K - 118 Defecient
    Ca - 518
    Mg - 126
    Na - 36
    Soluble Salts - 58 ppm
    Organic Matter - 1.6%
    Cation Exchange Capacity - 4.3 Meg/100 gms
    Recommendation of 50-50-50 fertilizer per acre.


    Plot #2
    Moist loam soil. Does not hold water, but stays considerably moist, especially last winter... will get a truck stuck after considerable rain... trust me.

    pH - 5.2
    Buffer Index - 6.5
    NO3 - 0
    P - 32 Marginal
    K - 56 Very Defecient
    Ca - 500
    Mg - 78
    Na - 32
    Soluble Salts - 38 ppm
    Organic Matter - 1.6%
    Cation Exchange Capacity - 6.7 Meg/100 gms
    Recommendation of 50-50-50 fertilizer per acre, and 1 ton of lime per acre, 100% ECCE.
     
  4. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    Rooster 7 - Good couple of questions. Plot 1 has a pH of 6.1 which will grow alot of things even though it is a little low. I would suggest you incorporate 1,000 pounds/acre of ag lime minimum. Martin Marietta lime plant at Hugo generally puts out 60% to 65% ECCE ag lime. So You will be adding approx 600# of lime/1000# of product. This should be sufficient lime to boost your soil up to 6.7 to 6.8.

    Plot # 2 has a pH of 5.2 and your recommendation is for 1 ton ECCE 100% of ag lime. Your lime, most likely, is 65% ECCE so You will need approx 3,300# of ag lime to yield 2,000 of 100% lime. I would spread this along with a minimum of 300#/acre of 50-50-50 ferilizer and disc/till it in.

    The PURE ATTRACTION seed blend that you won in the drawing should do great in plot 1. This mix will provide oats for a quick green up plus some cereal grains and some brassicas for the late season bow hunting.

    Plot 2 currently has a low pH and while the added lime is adjusting the
    soil pH a planting of EXTREME would do well for this fall. The EXTREME seed mix will tolerate a pH as low as 5.4 so it will grow and improve as the ph rises. You could add a blend of forage oats, wheat, triticale, some dwarf essex rape,turnips, and some radishes for the short run and then plant Imperial whitetail clover when the pH is sufficient. The ground stays somewhat moist year round so the clover will do well and the deer will keep it mowed off.

    Your annual rainfall is around 50+" so with a pH adjusted soil the property will grow plenty of forage for the deer. I might even suggest some alfalfa once the pH rises.

    Tomorrow I will may add some suggestions after I have had time to ponder additional seed blends.
     
  5. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    Rooster7 - Another thought would be to add 700 pounds/acre of 17-17-17 to plot #1 to cover all fertilizer requirements annually. This would build up some of the P & K requirements.

    Plot 2 needs around 350 pounds/acre of 17-17-17 annually.
     
  6. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    I just sprayed the fields today at Antlers. I intend to go back near the first of October and plant everything.

    The Okla Co food plots have been tilled and partially planted. There were 4 deer on one of the plots when I returned tonight from Antlers. A young doe was spotted 2 days ago with a we little speckled butt on the backyard feeder. She seems to be a new arrival.

    REMEMBER the 23rd is the full moon (fall equinox). This starts the fall breeding cycle.

    I am experimenting with some new items for the deers palate this fall. Daikon radishes are showing a huge potential with protein content approaching 40+%. These can be purchased at Ross Seed in El Reno 405-262-3456. I also am going to try some spinach, tender greens and some mustard. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts before the deer wipe it out. These are all brassicas.
     
  7. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    I have had an interesting experience. The deer are eating my watercress and lilly pads which are located in my 300 gallon water garden. They have almost eaten it down to the waterline.

    Now getting down to business.

    Dealing with grass in food plots.

    In approx 2-3 weeks the grass in my approx 10 acres of food plots which was sprayed with Clethodim 2E, a selective herbicide for grass only,on Sunday will be dead at my farm. The dallis grass which was pretty thick will be matted on the ground. The thick grass will ball up under the tiller.

    Clethodim can be purchased at Estes Chemical Co (405-232-2493) in OKC ask for L.D. or Darrell. The chemical costs currently $105/ gallon plus $25.00 for a 2.5 gallon container of crop oil surfactant The application rate is 8 ounces/acre plus 1.5 pints of crop oil/acre. This equates to Clethodim 2E covering 16 acres/ gallon or $8.48 / acre to spray which is cheaper than ROUNDUP. It just kills grass and will not harm anything else that is not a grass so your clover and alfalfa etc are safe. Twice a growing season spraying should keep your plots free of invasive grasses which out competes the "good plants" for nutrients and moisture.

    ROUNDUP (Glyphosate) can be used to initially to rid a plot of all vegetation at a rate of 2 ounces/gallon of water plus SURFKING surfactant. My spray rig is callibrated to spray 25 gallons of water/acre at 3 mph. So I use 50 ounces of agricultural strength glyphosate (43%) plus 1 pint of SURFKING per 25 gallons of water.

    Clethodim 2E and Glyphosate are agricultural strength products that cannot be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot. Homeowner strength ROUNDUP can be purchased at Lowes etc but it will not be as effective as ag strength because it is approx. 1/3 the concentration. There is a huge savings when you buy ag strength from a dealer versus buying homeowner strength from Lowes/Home Depot.

    I am currently tilling my soil only 3" deep as it saves time and fuel compared to tilling 6" deep. The end result is still the same. I have a good seed bed that is well fluffed.

    Ok, what do I do to reduce the balling of the grass under the tiller? I had this same problem on my Okla Co property. I made 3 laps around the plot with my tiller to provide a fire break and I performed a controlled burn. How do I do a controlled burn you ask? Well the wind was low on that particular day. I always try to burn when the wind is either around 12 mph or less which can be accomplished during a semi calm day or when the burn is in the timber which acts as a wind block. It also can be done in late afternoon when the wind is laying down for the night.Next I mix my igniter solution which is a blend of 3 parts diesel to 1 part regular gas and put it in an empty DAWN dishwashing bottle. I pick up a stick or dead limb that is long enough to comfortably reach the ground and dribble some ignition solution on the end tip and light it. I begin the burn on the downwind side of the plot so I am burning into the wind. I burn into the wind so I can easily control the flames. If I burned with the wind then the flames would quickly get out of hand and I would be in trouble. The fire burns slowly and consumes the grass or brush that may be in your way. When this is complete then I start tilling/discing the soil putting under the new fertilizer called ash. The only drawback is the soot cloud that comes up around you. Wear a herbicide/pesticide respirator that can be purchased from Home Depot or Lowes. This keeps your sinuses from getting plugged up with soot and dust. It sure helps on my sinus headaches.:woohoo1:

    If your plots are small say 1/4 acre then this should be easy to do. If your plots are feeding plots and larger than 1 acre then you need to contact your local fire department or fire tower and give them the location of your site. This is appreciated by them and keeps you from having to possibly pay for a false alarm fire call. It does happen. I have burned up to 25 acres at 1 time with a helper and myself.
     
  8. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    I just completed my fall food plot planting in Okla Co last night during the rain. I have added 2 new brassicas to see what impact the plot will get from the deer. I added mustard and some tendergreens to a designated test plot. If anyone is not familiar with tendergreens they are a hybrid comprised of spinach and mustard. I have planted them for several years for personal consumption and they are wonderful to eat. I expect the deer will wipe this plot out when we receive enough frost to turn the starch to sugar. More on this later in the winter. OBTW the tendergreens can be purchased at Horn Seed Co on the Classen traffic circle in OKC 842-6607.
     
  9. dennishoddy

    dennishoddy Sharpshooter

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    I got the seed I won planted last Sunday. Got a nice 1/4" of rain on it last night. I'm expecting to see some green stuff in about 10 days:D
     
  10. Deer Slayer

    Deer Slayer Sharpshooter

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    My kale, dwark essex rape, purple top turnips and wintergreens are starting to come up. I could use a good 1/2" rain on everything to kick start all the plots.
     

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