New to food plots and was wondering if anyone can give a good suggestion. We have an old family farm in S. Western Ohio. 200 acres, 100 acres of corn/soybean fields, the rest is creek bottom, honey suckle chocked with open paths up to 40 ft wide for the horse riders to use. We are thinking about closing down a section of the horse path and putting in a food plot... about 3 acres.... any suggestions for a type of food plot in this very very fertile ohio soil?
The area we are planning on using is subject to minimal flooding during the spring, the soil is some of the most fertile I have ever seen. The adjacent corn field is always the best producer out of all our plots. The flooding never hurts the soybeans or corn. We are big bow hunters, and hit it during the rut hard every year. We always have big bucks near the property, but we want to keep more does around during the rut. We have good bedding cover, so that is not an issue.
If you already have beans and corn through the Summer/early Fall, I would suggest you plant a clover mix if you want a perennial that doesn't take much effort once it gets going or a brasica/oats mix if you want to have that attracting growth from late Fall into late Winter. The brasicas/oats will be more work and more cost because you will have to replant every year, but they seem to have a little more attraction to the deer than the clover. Don't get me wrong, the clover will draw and hold deer but from what I have seen the deer prefer the oats early and the brasicas after a good hard frost. We had the heaviest use of our clovers in late Winter and early Spring. Both of these plantings will do well in wet conditions so long as they get started growing before a flood. If it floods before they sprout, you have a chance of the seeds floating out of the ground with anything you plant. Also, keep in mind that the farm crops get harvested. If you plant some beans and corn in your plot, they are there for the duration. I have had alot of luck with planting the beans and corn together, especially these new climbing soybeans. They work well together as the beans affix nitrogen into the soil and the corn needs the nitrogen to grow, so it has helped out with the cost of fertilizers over the years. Keep in mind that you will only need to add about 10 lbs. of corn seed to your beans to cover an acre. If you use more corn seed, the plots will be really thick and the deer don't seem to use them as well. (This is a mistake we have made in the past.) The only thing you want to remember is not to plant things in the same area more than 2 years in a row. Alternate your plantings to different areas. This will help keep diseases down as well as some bugs at bay.
If you have good stands of honeysuckle, you may want to consider fertilizing some of them as well. This is a practice I have been doing for years and it works great. I take a bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer and fertilize several honeysuckle spots every year. You will be able to tell the difference between the use these get from the ones you didn't fertilize. It also boost the plants crude protein levels to above 19% and makes these plants more palatable to the deer. It's a cheap way to increase the usage of your native brows.
Wow, thank you for the response. I was thinking clover or a oat/brassica mix would be best.
Another question on the honey suckle. Literally our whole property is overgrown with this stuff. It is old honey suckle, some of the plants literally look like trees, stetching 30 ft into the air... and it is thick as can be. When the leaves start dropping, the deer hit them hard. You can see them picking up individual leaves off the ground immediately. Is it still worth fertilizing this old growth honey suckle that sprawls the entire property (200 acres?) Should I pick one spot, and set it up for a prime hunting spot?
I also noticed that after all the honey suckle drops, the number of deer on our property drops from 10-15 deer to about 5-8 deer. Anyway to keep them on the property? Would the clover or brassica/oat mix keep them around later into the winter? Or is it a bedding issue with the loss of honey suckle cover?