In phase II of our fall food plot series, we start a more enjoyable part of the process: planting!
We’re still at it, folks – hopefully you’ve been following along and starting your own fall food plot on your property. The general idea is to get these articles out at the same time we’re doing the work, so you can use these techniques and be hunting over a plot this fall.
If you missed Phase I of the series, make sure to go back and check that out first. Alright, let’s dive in.
Where We Left Off
After our herbicide application, we waited two weeks to let the plants really absorb it and fully die out.
When we got back to the plot, the vast majority of the field was brown and dry. We then spot-sprayed the field to take out any remaining green plants.
From this point, things got interesting. We had planned on using an old bed spring we had laying around (we’ll call it Plan #1) to drag the dead vegetation from the field. However, we had misjudged the hard surface and heavy sod layer.
In addition, it had been extremely dry the weeks leading up to the field preparation phase, which certainly didn’t help things. When we dragged the bed spring with cinder blocks on top, it only glided over the surface.
Plan #2 involved a slightly different approach. We had two old snow plow blades sitting around, which we attached together via chains. We also installed bolts through the plow blade holes to rip up the surface.
We felt really optimistic about this plan. But again, it had been extremely dry leading up to it, so it didn’t perform like we had thought (and nervously hoped).
Plan #3 was to burn off the chaff and dry vegetation to get a good exposed soil surface. But the same issue that affected the first two plans (extremely dry conditions), obviously negated this option. We didn’t want to be responsible for starting a forest fire!
Ultimately, we had to cheat a little by renting a disk for our ATV. It was still a fairly cheap option, as it was less than a hundred bucks to rent for the three-day weekend. But it was so much more effective!
We could have continued with Plan #2 for days of effort and still not ended up with a seed bed like we did with the disk. In the end, if you’re tackling a brand new plot, I would skip the other approaches and recommend this option.
Here’s the final product, ready for seeds!
Food Plot Seeds
We were fortunate enough to receive some seeds from Cabela’s Wildlife and Land Management for our fall food plot experiment. Specifically for our plot, we planted Cabela’s Brassica Blend and Cabela’s Destination Blend.
We used an existing gully down the center of our field as the dividing line for our two seeds. The annual brassicas (this blend includes forage rapes and turnips) are located on the east side of the gully, and come treated with Micro-Boost to help with germination.
The west side of the plot is planted in the perennial Destination (clover and alfalfa) blend, which will sprout now but really take off next season. Then next year, we can either plant the east side in some more annuals or make it all a perennial plot.
But before we got to the planting, we needed to address the pH (soil acidity) and nutrients for our fall food plot. There’s an entire science behind addressing the lime and fertilizer needs of your plot, which is where soil tests come in very handy. But to make things even simpler, we took some cheap and effective liberties.
Instead of trucking in tons of lime per acre for our plot, we used an easier alternative: Deer Gro Plot Start.
We were thrilled to receive this product to test in our experiment. It contains soluble calcium, which immediately starts to improve the soil conditions for your plants. One 2.5-gallon jug can treat an entire acre of land, and is comparable to one ton of agricultural lime!
All you have to do is mix it up in a sprayer with water and apply it to the soil immediately after planting.
We used a common lawn seeder to spread our fertilizer and seeds throughout the plot. We used the back of the rake to gently incorporate the seeds and fertilizer into the soil. After spreading, we simply sprayed the Plot Start across the 2/3-acre plot.
Now all we have to do is pray for some rain.
Good luck with your own food plots! Remember to keep at it, even when you encounter some setbacks like we did. There’s always a way around it.
Look for the final article, Phase III – Hunting in October.
All photos via Ryan Lisson