Fall Food Plots: Now is a Good Time to Fertilize Your Deer Crops

Buck Food PlotGuessing how much fertilizer to throw on your food plots or just thinking “Ah, a bag or two of triple 13 will be fine” might get the job done, but why do it halfway?

If you're going to plant food plots, take time to get your fertilizer application rates established to maximize the plot's growth. (Photo: Mossy Oak BioLogic)

If you’re going to plant food plots, take time to get your fertilizer application rates established to maximize the plot’s growth. (Photo: Mossy Oak BioLogic)

Why go to the time and expense to plan and build food plots, yet not maximize the potential by going all the way? Proper fertilization, and liming if necessary to get the pH balance right, can help you get the most out of your plots for a year-round management plan.

Yeah, I know we often fall into the seasonal plan. “Gotta get my plots planted for deer season” and then we’ll pick a bag of this or a bag of that, spend a day or weekend plowing and planting, and then hope for the best. Time, money and, quite honestly, the quick-fix get-it-not mentality is often the easiest route.

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But if you want to maintain food plots year-round or have the ability to do so on your leased land or what you own, getting the right soil analysis is a solid idea. Not only should you soil test the property, of course, but keep good records and don’t rely on soil tests from a year ago, or longer. They’re inexpensive and a good gauge of what’s going on.

I ran across this fertilizer calculator a few weeks ago and it’s pretty cool. The site is through the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and state Cooperative Extension Service. The various state extension services and universities with agricultural and environmental sciences can offer good advice and resources for landowners and hunters interested in land, timber and more.

The fertilizer calculator says it’s for those “whose fertilizer needs require adjustment from the standard soil test recommendation due to a change in units, availability of fertilizer products, and/or a difference in land size. With it, the user can calculate the weight of fertilizer materials to supply the amounts of N, P2O5, and K2O recommended by a soil test report. Users have the option to select recommendations in pounds per acre that are typical of agronomic crop recommendations or in pounds per 1000 square feet that are typical of homeowners reports such as for a home lawn.

Check it out, plug in your numbers and see what’s up.

— Alan Clemons, Managing Editor