Kill plots are designed to create an opportunity for a hunt on the deer's way to a major food source. It can also be a great staging area. Placing a water source and a couple apple tree's by it only increases your odd's. You must keep the area secure with very low human impact on it. This leaves you only with a couple choices for planting. 1) Clover. Which will only get you so far into the season depending on your location. 2) Brassica's, Clover, and Rye. This mixture will get you more time and use from your plot. All three of these seeds need very little soil contact to germinate. In a woods setting spray area with round up two weeks before planting. Then cut and rake the forest floor clean and broadcast Brassicas 75 days before frost. I broadcast the seed just before a rain event if possible. You must cut and clear away any trees or limbs blocking sunlight. At 60 days over seed with clover and rye again before a rain event. If grass begins to grow in plot. Kill of with Clethodim before planting Rye and Clover. You will now have a multi-season kill plot that carries you further into the season and offers a continual food source.
CLOVER: There are many varieties of clover. In clover plots I use a very cold hardy Ladino Clover called Crusade. It was developed for pasture raised cows and rebounds from grazing very quickly. I want it nice and long come hunting season. (8-10inches) The deer here will dig it up through the snow in winter. Alsike Ladino Is a good clover for moist soil conditions. Will Ladino is very fast at establishing itself and grows well in multiple climates. I only use Red Clover when over seeding an existing plot mixed with Winter Rye. Red clover needs to be cut more often than white or it gets tough and woody. It also has tannin in it for the red color and is not as sweet tasting as white. It is the cheapest of clover seed and works well as a till up, soil improver. Crimson Clover is an expensive annual.
WINTER RYE/WHEAT: I only use winter rye. It has great soil building capabilities (green fertilizer) as well as needed nutrition for the deer. It will grow just about anywhere you throw it. Winter wheat sucks Nitrogen out of the soil and does nothing to benefit it. Broadcast and over seed your clover, brassica's, corn, soybean plots with it.
CORN: I use 100 day round up ready corn seed. If you use conventional corn seed you have to use a pre-emergent herbicide that leaves a residue that kills throughout the year. You wont be able to over seed into your corn or soybeans if you use the conventional dent corn seed. I plant corn in no greater than rows of 20. I don't want the deer bedding in it. I also use it to divide sections of the plot so the bucks have to search the entire plot. Not just stand on the edge and look for doe's.
SOY BEANS: Two types of Soy Beans: Forage and Ag. Again I use round up ready Ag and I don't do forage. 1) Too expensive. 2) I want pods as another late season food source. I plant beans at 2 different times. 1) When farmers are planting. 2) Late June. Green soy bean plants in October until killed by frost is a huge advantage. Pods will be at 80-100%.
BRASSICA'S: Work best in non-agriculture settings. Love's nitrogen add 200lbs an acre of urea. Plant approximately 75 days before first frost. Best to under seed than over seed as they need room to grow. Personally I use Purple Top Turnips for tonnage. The deer will eat the tops and then the bulbs. I over seed with Rye and Red Clover 45 days before frost to add to the plot.
OATS: Deer love oats until they head for the most part. I have seen them eaten to the ground fully headed in winter also. Oats have to be planted and usually mixed with other forage varieties. Such as Pea's ,Rye or Clover. Best to plant 30 days before hunting opener if planted by themselves.
PEAS: I've used the Austrian Winter Pea many times. The deer love them. They are more cold hardy than soybeans from my personal observation. I mix them with Oats, Rye and Red Clover. I plant 10 weeks before first frost. Here that is the end of July typically. The problem with this combo is weed control. It is not a round up ready product so you must use conventional herbicides. Oats and Rye are a grass so you cant do any kind of grass control. You can control the broadleaf's with Butyrac200/24DB. So be prepared for a grassy food plot it you don't kill it before hand. Typically I work the plot 2 weeks before planting. Spray the plot with round up 7 days before working it. Then again 2 days before planting. Then I plant by broadcast spreading and using a spike tooth drag. Then culti-pack or use a lawn roller. Doing this right before a rain will greatly improve germination.
Lets Talk Food Plots:
Planning A Food Plot:
Creating a food plot. Easier said than done. Number of thing's one must realize right off. Are my goals realistic because of my habitat, deer population and available acreage to plant? Is my soil going to allow me to grow what I want? If not what can I grow to compensate? What and when should I plant, that best benefits myself and the deer. How do I get the most tonnage off the plots I have? So lets break this down step by step and create a food plot. First, what type of plot am I planting: Destination or Kill. Soil Test: For me I go to the feed mill and get sample bags. I go to my plot and get 4 or 5 samples in different areas of it and throw them in a 5 gallon bucket. Mix it all up and then place a sample in the bag and return it to feed mill. 20 bucks, takes 2 weeks. You'll get a result sheet. (NPK)Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium. All fertilizers have 3 numbers on the bag like 19-19-19. They stand for ratio amount of NPK per bag. Between the results of your test and what you plan to plant is how you adjust the fertilizer ratio. Corn for example uses more nitrogen to grow because it is a grass species. I want a fertilizer high in N which is Nitrogen, plus what the test says you need in P&K. You can also add urea which is nitrogen fertilizer to aide in corn and brassicas. Soybeans you don't need as much N so you can go with a lower number N. For me personally and my clients. I tell them stick with 19-19-19 blend fertilizer for everything and then add urea 200 lbs an acre for Corn or Brassicas. Works quite well and simple to remember. In normal Agriculture practice's 90% of the time all equations and ratio's will be in "per acre." As a manager you will need to learn this and do the math for proper: Herbicide, Fertiizer and Seed Applications. The test results will also give you your soil ph, Soil ph should be 6-7 for optimal growth. Use lime to help neutralize soil ph. Typically you use 1-2 tons an acre depending on results initially and then retest every 2 years. If your ph is incorrect and too low you wont grow anything. Seed: When it comes to food plot seed the arguments are long and endless. I am just going to say this. Farmers lively hoods have been depending on the seed, fertilizer and herbicides provided by their local feed mill for many years. Regulated, tested and screened seed for optimum performance. That's where I get all of mine from. My clients pay me for the best results at the best prices on everything I do on their property. I get the best seed, screened, with no fillers cheaper than any buck on the bag seed. I get herbicides and fertilizer much cheaper also there. Honestly, Buying any product associated with or sponsoring any type of hunting company is going to equal, "more for less." I worked that side of the block for awhile and I did not like it. You're free to make your own choice. Check out your local feed mill and see, and then decide. Herbicides: Glyphosphate: The generic version of round up. Same active ingredients. To be used on round up ready corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Will kill anything else green and living that it comes in contact with. I will also use it to spray and kill existing vegetation on a new food plot before planting. Also in areas the summer before where I plan to plant trees the next spring. I get a 2 1/2 gallon jug of concentrate for $40 a jug at my feed mill. Mixing ratios: Spot spray 3oz/gal. or 2 quarts an acre. A 25 gallon sprayer on the back of an atv can do an acre if that helps you out. Clethodim2EC: A grass only killer. It will also kill corn, oats ,rye, sorghum and wheat. I use this to kill grass for over the tops of tree's and in my clover plots. In clover it must be mixed with crop oil, with trees you use a non ionic surfactant. Ratio: Spot spray 2oz/gal with 2oz/gal of crop oil/surfactant. 16oz/acre with 1qt surfactant/crop oil. Runs around $55 for a gallon jug of concentrate. Butyrac/24db: A broadleaf killer safe to use on soybeans, peas, clover, and alfalfa. It will kill trees. I use it only for broadleaf control in clover plots. Must use crop oil with it. Ratios: Spot spray: 3oz/gal with crop oil 3oz/gal. 2qts/acre with crop oil 2qts/ acre. Runs around $75 a gallon of concentrate because of shipping cost. Crop Oil and the Surfactant both run about $20 a gallon jug. If you are serious about food plots. You have to keep the weeds under control, fertilize, and keep the proper ph or you are wasting your time and money. Food Plot Cost: Cost of a 1 acre food plot plus a 1/2 acre clover plot. Lime if needed:$25-100.. Fertilizer:$100 Herbicides:$30.. Clover Seed:$30..1 acre of Brassica seed:$50..1 acre of corn seed:$80..1 acre of soybean seed:$30.. 1 acre oats, peas, rye, red clover and turnip seed:$100. So as you can see for a 1 acre food plot you have invested $150 in it with just fertilizer and weed control. The seed, fuel, equipment and labor expense still need to be addressed. Go over to my video section and watch the hand tools and atv equipment for food plotting, It will give you a better understanding of what is needed and the cost of such.
Everybody's favorite topic. So let's get at it lol. When planning a food plot I like to use long rectangular shaped food plots with strips of different vegetation. This offer's more than one choice of food. I also like to plant fruit tree's along these plots as well. Remember if a deer has a multiple selection of food in any given area, at any given time. The more likely the are to keep returning. Offering different emerging food sources at the right time, (fall) increases your odd's of a successful harvest. Also offering the deer what they need to continue to thrive. When placing food plots I try to place them between bedding areas, or a focal point from several bedding areas. I want my clover and food plots to lead deer in a preferred direction which is beneficial to hunting them. I want them screened so they feel secure and I can get in and out without being detected. And, I want them entering and exiting at key locations beneficial to me hunting them. Timing, Nutrition, Location: The basic keys to success. Knowing when to plant is as important as knowing what to plant for the proper nutrition for the deer. Keeping that buck healthy and giving him the ability to grow into a shooter is what its about. Keeping those Doe's healthy to reproduce is just as important or there wont be no bucks. Deer typically have it made the months May through September. They can pretty much bed, browse, and eat anywhere they want. You need to focus on your food plots kicking in from October - March. Lets start with March into April green up. Clover and Winter Rye. High in Protein for the does with fawning and bucks with antler growth. I over seed Soybeans, Corn and Brassicas with Winter Rye and Red Clover in August for a late fall, winter and spring food source. Your clover plots are perennial so just get them in. You need to have an early high protein food source for the deer until spring green up is underway. Clover and rye green up and start growing again very early. I prefer using a very cold hardy Ladino clover developed for farmers with grazing cattle. I have been using it now 3 years. It is very large leafed and grows extremely well. The deer love it's palatability and dig it up through the snow all winter. I want it all of 8 inches tall by bow season. All my properties have corn. When I see the locals farmers out planting corn. I plant mine and spray it once. It's good to go for the year. In Mid August I go in 4 rows from the outer edges and broadcast Winter Rye, Red Clover and brassica's. I use red clover because it is cheap and will be tilled under the following spring. In Clover plots I only use Ladino clover. BTW Ladino is just a fancy word for White clover. White is more palatable because there is no tannin in it. Which is what makes red clover red. I over seed to create another added food source within a food source. Thus creating more nourishment and tonnage per acre. I have over seeded Daikon Radish into the corn and it grew very well. Soybeans are king everywhere. I plant two sets of soybeans on large properties. The first I plant when farmers do. The second I plant late. Typically around June 25th or 90 days before your typical yearly frost date. Having green soybeans in September and October is like winning the lottery. As the first beans yellow and dry down the late beans are green for weeks yet. If I could only plant one I would always choose the late planted beans. Stretching and utilizing that food supply as long as it can last. Over seeding it with rye and clover to offer more, longer. When planting Brassicas I am looking for a late fall/winter food source with it. With that said I plant Purple Top Turnips and Daikon Radish. The deer will eat the tops and when the bulbs are done they will be unto them. I plant these 80 days before typical yearly frost date. In Wisconsin that is the end of July. I don't plant Kale or Rape. I want the most tonnage per acre I can get late into the year. I also over seed red clover and winter rye into the Brassica plot with about 6 weeks of growing season left. This will also be waiting for them next spring. The deer don't typically touch Brassicas until after the Corn and Soybeans are gone here. In big woods where there is no ag land. The deer will tear up the Brassica. An acre of purple tops can create a lot of tonnage for the deer to eat. Add in the clover and rye and its just more late season/spring nutrition. Winter Peas, Oats, Rye, Red Clover, and Turnips/Radish are another great combo to plant together with around 60 days of planting season left. Planting for late fall and winter puts your property at it's peak when it's needed. Hunting season, and is so beneficial to the deer until spring green up. Having habitat to also offer browse should be included in your food plot plan as well. Weather that is through planting of habitat or hinge cutting browse. Having some type of water source near a food plot, weather man made or bought. Strategically placed for stand location and hunting is a valuable asset to have. Placing a communication post in your cover plot set up for hunting is another. Remember timing, variety and location are key. With a little help from mother nature. NOTE: Winter Rye, Clover, Oats and Daikon Radish are extremely good soil builders and cover crops. Never leave a food plot bare and empty. It's bad for the soil and you are wasting a prime food source location. Over seed into your plots. It will create green manure and only benefit your soils, as well as add a spring time food source.