Summer Food Plots

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When to Plant Summer Food Plots

When planting summer food plots, I like to get them in early since we will want the plants to mature as soon as possible in the late summer.  As soon as the soil temperature beneath the surface reaches into the 60s, its time to get seeds into the ground.  Often times, I can’t get a seed drill, don’t have time or its too wet.  When delays happen and you are planting in the hot June weather,  try to plant down to the moisture.  In other words, set the drill at a depth that places seeds in moist soil.  Last year I lost all of my food plots to drought except the ones I planted deep.

What to Plant in Summer Food Plots

Summer food plots will consist of fast-growing plants with massive amounts of growth. Examples are: soy beans, cow peas, sunn hemp, sunflowers, buckwheat and sorghum.  This mix cost about $40/acre to plant.  I go heavy on the beans since deer will hit them right away.  Always plant as much ground as you can.  Less than 3 acres will get wiped out.  A mixture of the above will fix nitrogen, build soil organic mater and cycle nutrients.  Thick covering of what you want to grow will suppress plants you don’t want.  The plot will grow more tonnage of forage than any stand-alone crop.  Differing height, root configuration, leaf shape enable the crop to maximize the use of available sunlight and soil nutrients.  Cover crop cocktails grow better than stand-alone crops in research trials.

Terminating Summer Food Plots

If there are a lot of deer and little agriculture, the deer will terminate the crop for you. When it comes time to plant the fall seeds, we simply drill them in over the top or spin them on by hand or with an ATV spreader ahead of a good rain. This system will provide more forage and nutrition for more of the year than any stand-alone plot. It also will build soil organic matter and nutrients and keep weeds under control. Once you have a good rotation going, the soil will not need fertilizer and you won’t need tillage or herbicide applications. It becomes very easy and very effective in keeping deer fed and coming around throughout the year.

I will cover fall crops when the time comes.  Lets see how this year’s planting goes.  I’m pretty excited that we got lots of rain after planting.  Last year, we had 2″ the entire month of June and we got more than that in one rain event last week.  For more details visit my youtube videos at:

Drilling in Summer Food Plot Cover Cocktail

About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.

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