Many people think that you can simply pick out a spot for a food plot, work the ground up, throw down some seed and they will have a picture perfect plot like they saw on T.V. or in a magazine. While sometimes you get lucky with this method, more times than not you’re left with a big disappointment and a smaller wallet. This is a challenge X-Treme Wildlife deals with on a daily basis with customers who want the best but would like to cut corners to save them a few dollars. Believe me; we can completely understand their desire to save money, however cutting corners planting Food Plots is not really going to save you money in the long run.
• Develop a realistic budget – Allow yourself enough funds to buy the materials needed to create a successful food plot.
First challenge when creating a food plot is creating a budget for that plot. What do I mean? If you have a $500 budget you’re probably not going to be able to create a large food plot that is successful, because your budget wouldn’t allow you to buy enough of the materials needed.
• Determine the location for your food plot
After establishing your budget, be realistic in determining the size plot you would like to create and where you will develop your plot.
• Take proper soil samples – Take several dirt samples within a plot, mix them together to get an overall average of the entire plot.
We recommend you take several dirt samples within a plot, mix them together to get an overall average of the entire plot. If your local grain elevator does not do soil sampling they can point you in the right direction of where you can send your sample to be tested. Allow a couple weeks for the samples to return.
• Add lime to your soil to raise your PH levels – Lime has a slow breakdown process. Add lime to your soils as soon as you receive the results from the soil samples.
Once your have gotten your soil sample back you will have everything you need to know about the dirt you are dealing with. It will not only tell you the current soil PH, but it will tell you what is needed to get your plot to the PH level needed for the seed you will be planting. A neutral PH is 7, it is best to have a minimum 6.2 PH when planting, as most seed blends, especially those designed to attract whitetails, require at least a 6.2 PH or higher. The lower PH, the more fertilizer you waste, due to the plants not being able to utilize it. For example in extremely acidic soil condition, 4.5 PH or lower, more than 71% of fertilizer put down is wasted. That is a lot of money wasted! Other key factors to remember are that when adding lime to raise your soil PH, it has a slow break down process. So if you’re planning for a fall plot, soil test it in the spring and add lime then, to allow it time to breakdown. Pelletized lime is a quicker alternative to ag lime but the effects do not last nearly as long.
• Plant your seed
Preparing a seed bed does not take expensive equipment but does need to be done properly. The ground needs to be as weed-free as possible and the soil needs to be loose and free of big clumps to ensure proper seed-to-soil contact. Seed depth is a crucial element to germination to allow the root of the plant to establish a healthy base. Most seed blends will give their recommendations right on the bag for seed depth and even the type of fertilizer to be used with the seed blend.
If you follow these few simple steps, you will see success when planting your next food plot.
About the Author
Jeff Bergsieker, Owner of X-Treme Wildlife Habitat Management and Land Specialist/Agent for Trophy Properties and Auction, is an avid hunter and outdoorsmen. He especially enjoys whitetail, turkey and raccoon hunting.
At X-Treme Wildlife, Jeff assists land owners in making the most of their farm/land/investment. He offers services from deer herd surveying and population estimation, buck age structure, and fawn recruitment, advanced hunting strategies and stand placement, custom stand construction, hunter management, native habitat enhancement for enhanced cover, food, timber management for deer and other wildlife, grading,
herbicides, sanctuary location, design, and management, site-specific food plot selection, equipment requirements and much more.
With over 15 years of experience in land and habitat management, Jeff has joined the Trophy Properties and Auction team to help you find and maintain the hunting property you’ve always wanted.