My First Food Plot Plan

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My First Food Plot Plan

Postby deershoes » Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:33 am

Thanks in advance for your time and advice!

I would like to plant a half -3/4 acre food plot this year on our farm, converting a small slice of pastureland (grass for cattle) to a mixed annual/perennial-food plot for deer. This would be a “hunting/shooting” plot for bow hunting mostly.

I’ve done a little research and reading, and made my first cut at a plan, but I want to hear what y’all think and get some expert advice.

First, my biggest constraint. I don’t live near the farm, it’s about six hours away, we rent it to cattle farmers next to us. I will travel there in May and again at “planting” time, and again for hunting season. But I can’t go back and forth all the time, it’s just too far away.

So my current plan:

In May I will get soil samples, but I will also go ahead and spread “some” pelletized lime anyway. Start work on the fence (to keep cattle out). If I get back in mid-summer, just finish fence, add more lime if needed.

“Planting time”
(right now thinking 1st week of SEP for southwest VA)

Arrive FRI afternoon – spray roundup.

1) finish any remaining fence work
2) mow & rake
3) Disc using a small ATV size discer
(either towed behind lawn tractor or my small 4WD pickup)
4) Seed, add more lime and fertilizer
5) Pray for Rain

Stay out ‘til bow season.

Concerns/Questions- the area selected is pretty much grass now, but I think there are some rocks around. Will these damage a discer? How concerned should I be about this? How hard do I need to work at rock removal for a small ATC size discer?

Timing to plant in SW Virginia ? (Near Roanoke, Floyd Co.)

How should I work in seeds and to what depth?

What’s seed mix do you recommend? I’m in SW Virginia. It will be near a evergreen stand ( a long ago Christmas tree farm) where there are signs the deer bed down, but I don’t think is a good food source anymore. There are are hardwood areas around the pastureland, and a small creek bed not too far away. We do see deer on the property quite often.

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Re: My First Food Plot Plan

Postby rthomas4 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:21 am

The only glaring mistake I saw was the plan to spray the weed killer on Friday and plant on Saturday. In order for the weed killer to work optimally, it should be applied about 1 week prior to turning the land, so that the chemical can have an opportunity to soak all the way to the roots. Then to really eliminate the weeds after turning the land a second application of weed killer should be performed and wait at least another week to plant. If you plant too quickly there's a strong possibility that the weed killer will not allow the seeds to germinate.
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Re: My First Food Plot Plan

Postby deershoes » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:55 pm


I admit I'm a bit confused on that.

Some info from Roundup here:

Seems to say just 4-6 hours, other places say 72 hours, other say seven days, etc....I guess the existing grass is a perennial and needs longer to work the Glyphosate to the roots.....I'll have to make another trip!!

Any thoughts on the discer and possible rocks hiding?

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Re: My First Food Plot Plan

Postby msbadger » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:54 am

Lord I gave you an answer and it got lost :roll: So lets try again..
RT is correct...So when you are there in May don't mow just spray the area with the RR...Here's the thing about planting seed. Weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil for upwards of 80yrs for some weed species...they then spring into action the moment conditions improve. Discing them to the surface and providing food sun and air does that. So I never recommend spending money on first perennial seed nor "designer"seed for the first couple of years. Because each time you disturb the soil it will bring up more seed, in fact, with the loosening of soil, the seeds will percolate to the surface naturally. That said after your first fall planting go with a spring then a fall annual plot you can actually accomplish this during the fall planting. This will give you an idea as to what the weed situation is and allow you to build the tilth of the soil and improve the bed with a gradual rock removal..for weed seeds are not the only thing that percolate to the surface. Believe me I know about rocky soils...your disc should be OK unless we are talking boulders...if you are worried than make sure you have help...go in and lightly disc the top and have ppl walking in behind you with a wheel barrel to grab the worst it big round ones or nasty big flat shale. then gradually disc deeper. In the fall if you have a few one not mow first, then if possible wait a day. Then mow, disc and drag(fence sections work) spread something for you fall kill plot.
This would be some thing that the local farmers are not planting. Deer like variety if no one around you has planted brassica than planting pure turnips or hog radish may fail you until they get use to it..then watch do not like rape it reseeds and can be difficult to get rid of. Google : winter cover crops that suppress weeds, then do some reading. It will give you a lot of good information and all of these seeds can be bought locally from ag dealers and broad cast seeded...just ask the farmer leasing from you. Now this sounds like a lot more work than perhaps you planned on...but believe me lay down a good foundation and the rest of your work will take less time. It is really not all that hard...I am a 56 yr old woman with two bad knees..ankles and shoulder..(Lord that sound bad out Any how I have been planting plots by my self, for many years now and have 14 different ones and adding more this is an addiction ;) If I can manage mine anyone can.
BTW I am also the cheapest person I DO NOT pay the high prices for fertilizers...lime is one thing and yes some bought fertilizer...but I plant to feed the next crop...Annual clovers..Winter Wheat, Winter Rye, Hog radish, I love spring/summer buck wheat... All these plants not only feed the deer and turkey but feed the soil as well. For gosh sakes just have fun doing it and then watching the results.
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Re: My First Food Plot Plan

Postby deershoes » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:13 pm

Thanks again to all for the advice! Looking forward to getting to work on it!

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Re: My First Food Plot Plan

Postby VT Outfitter » Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:45 am

I made a homemade roller to pull behind my ATV. I used a heavy duty plastic 55 gallon drum. I cut a hole in each end in the center of the drum. I then pushed a metal pipe slightly smaller than the hole I drilled. Then I made a frame out of leftover hardwood floor planks to connect to the metal pipe on each end and around the drum. Then I made a drop pin connection point to hook onto the ATV draw bar. I fill the drum half full of water through one of the screw caps on the top of the drum then replace the cap to hold the water in. Water will leak out where the metal pipe goes through the drum until it brings the level down when it will stop leaking for the most part. The drum half full (or so) with water and the hardwood frame weighs about 200 lbs. It works well to pull over a well prepared food plot bed to push the seed down for good germination contact. If anyone would like a picture, I can post one if someone asked me to.
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Re: My First Food Plot Plan

Postby VT Outfitter » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:27 pm

I have made "fast & dirty" food plots before in areas that I know I cant return to do more work.
The equipment I used: A gas trimmer
Tow chain
A ATV disc harrow
Hand seed/fertilizer spreader
1 gallon hand sprayer
Homemade seed roller

Food plot construction start to finish

1. I cut the grass and weeds with the trimmer and pulled and brush out with a chain to get the roots.
2. I sprayed a generic grass/weed killer (this grass killer stated on the label that it will not kill seeds of any kind).
3. After 2-3 hours of waiting for the grass killer to soak in, I spread 10-10-10 fertilizer that I purchased cheap
4. Then I chewed the dirt up with the disc harrow (breaking up the roots kills the existing plants anyway and the grass killer is to make sure)
5. I picked out any stones I came across that made the disc harrow jump (if there is a rock your seed wont grow in that spot, lots of rock=less germination)
6. After the seed bed was worked down about 4 inches, I spread a hybrid white clover/generic brassica/oat seed mix(I tend to over seed which helps choke out grass and weed seed that are remaining in the dirt).
7. Then with my homemade plot roller I pushed the seed down for a good soil to seed contact to improve germination and root establishment. Some seed like clover and any other very small seed, when it rains on a well prepared food plot, the rain is plenty of pressure to push the seed down leaving no need to roll the seed down. With larger, seed like field peas, pushing the seed down so it is touching dirt everywhere but the top gives the seed it best chance to germinate.

When I returned in the fall what I found was a bright green plot that looked great. Upon closer inspection there were some weeds, but the seeds that I planted were definitely that dominate plants. The deer and turkeys were feeding in the plot, chewing the oats down to dirt, eating the young clover as it was sprouting, and only nibbling the brassica tops. During late season I returned again to find a plot that, in appearance, seemed as though it had been mowed with a golf course mower.
I have done this a few times in the past 15 years or so and had it work ok. Absolutely the more time you can spend making a plot the better it will yield. But some times we just don't have the time. I hope this helps and good luck this season!
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