A lot of folks have property in the many hills and creekbottoms of Missouri and
both of these places and everywhere in between are great candidates for a place
to plant a food plot! This article isn't directed to the landowner who owns
good bottomland farm ground and a tractor and disc to plow the fields. This
article is to educate those of you who own or lease wooded areas and don't have
either the time or money to invest in planting row-crops. Now that we've
established the fact that you don't have to have 100 acres of row crop farmland
to successfully plant a food plot for whitetails and other wildlife, let's get
into the basics of what to plant and how to make such an area on your property.
What Should I Plant?
If you don't own land with good bottomland soil and an area that is suitable
for planting row crops like corn, soybeans, milo or the like, I highly
recommend using some of the wildlife food plot mixes that require nothing more
than contact with the soil for germination. The Whitetail Institute of North
America based out of Alabama markets a product known as "No-Plow". Nature's
Own, a company based out of Illinois sells a product called "Throw and Grow".
Both food plot mixtures require little more than contact with soil, some rain
and sunshine to thrive! Both of these products are quick and easy and work
well, even on the poorest of soils if you give them just a little help in
preparing the site before planting.
Choosing A Food Plot Site
If your land is like ours, all timber, you need to choose a place where
sunlight reaches the ground. Places where the forest canopy is sparse, a place
where storms have taken out a tree or two, and even logging roads make
excellent choices for planting such a wildlife food plot.
How Big Should My Food Plot Be?
These woodland food plots can come in any shape or size. You have to make due
with the open areas you have to plant in. For instance, we have five different
rectangular shaped food plots on Mom and Dad's 80 acres that range in size from
1/16 to 1/8 of an acre. This isn't counting the plantings on the logging trails
that meander along the ridgetops that probably total about 1/4 to 1/2 acre. The
following measurements in the table below all add up to about 1/4-acre so you
can use these figures to determine the size of the food plot on your land.
Number of feet Number of Steps (at 2.5 feet per step) Number of Yards 105 x 105
42 x 42 35 x 35 75 x 150 30 x 60 25 x 50 40 x 275 16 x 110 13 x 92 20 x 550 8 x
220 7 x 183 These figures will help you determine exactly how much lime,
fertilizer and seed you need to use if you want to get technical about it.
However, when planting an elongated food plot on a logging road it is a little
more difficult to calculate the size. A road 6 feet wide by 70 feet long (2 x
23.3 yards) is about one percent of an acre. If this would be the size of your
plot, you should lime, fertilize and seed this size plot according to 1% of the
recommendations for a 1-acre plot on the directions of the container.
Maintaining Your Plot
Make sure you follow the direction on the container of seed you choose. Some
recommend applications of ammonium nitrate once seedlings are 2-3 inches tall,
while others require that you reapply your balanced fertilizer (triple 12) at
45 day intervals as necessary. You might want to take the time to cut back any
competing plants or weeds that may have grown into your plot as the summer
wears on. To keep an eye on how well the local deer herd is enjoying this tasty
smorgasbord, place a milk crate over a portion of the plot and see how the
protected plants grow taller than those outside the crate. You won't believe
how much the deer keep your plot eaten down!
In Missouri, anytime in April is a great time to plant such a food
plot. You can even stretch your planting season into early to mid May but you
definitely don't want to plant in the hot months of summer. You won't believe
how quick and easy making such a beneficial plot can be. The personal
satisfaction of knowing that your own labor made such a deer and wildlife
attractant is immeasurable. So, get out those rakes and hatchets and take to
the woods to start making your own personal wildlife salad bar! (Editor's note:
For more information on both seed mixes you can contact the following companies
and make sure that you tell them that Missouri Deer Hunter Magazine recommended
you to call!: Whitetail Institute of North America 239 Whitetail Trail
Pintlala, AL 36043 Phone: 334-281-3006 Nature's Own P.O. Box 814 Manteno, IL
60950 1-800-480-7661 END