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Old 08-21-2012, 05:45 PM   #1
canny
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Default Food Plots 101 (Long Read)

Food Plots 101

With deer season right around the corner I decided to take the time to do this write up that will hopefully answer a lot of the common questions regarding food plots. A soil analysis should be conducted at least 6 months prior to planted to allow for a lime application. However, I am going to focus mainly on the actual planting and what is available.

Lets address the two commonly used forms of purchasing seed. First, there is the blends that are sold at many big box stores and feed stores. These blends are a marketing ploy to target the consumer. Each different seed type requires a certain planning depth in order to germinate properly and provide the best yield. Blends often include a cereal grain, and maybe clover, chicory, peas, or brassicas (turnips, rape, etc).

These seeds range in size from large (cereal grains & peas) to small (clover, chicory, and brassicas). Large seeds need to be planted between 1-2Ē deep, where as small seeds should not exceed 0.5Ē in depth. Therefore, there is no possible way that all the seeds in blends can be planted at the proper depth. Sure some will, but for all those that donít thatís just money wasted.

The second method is to purchase pure seed from a feed store and plant them separate. This often involves planting a large seed first in a well-disked area and then covering the seeds using a type of drag harrow. After this has been completed the smaller seeds can be spread and then dragged a second time to give the proper soil coverage. This is the recommended method for getting the most bang for your buck.

Next is the numerous seed options. The commonly planted crop type for fall attraction is some form of cereal grain (oats, wheat, or rye). Oats in general lead this group of seeds.

The largest misconception is that all oats are the same; this could not be any farther from the truth. The majority of oats purchased for the sole purpose of planning fall food plots are spring oats, and include bob, jerry, Cayuse, and magnum varieties. Spring oats cannot tolerate extreme cold temperatures and often freeze out when the temperature drops into the 20s; also they typically provide very low tillers (the number of shoots originating from a single root system).

Therefore, the best option for fall planting is a variety such as Buck Forage Oats. These oats are designed to withstand the temperatures, as they have been proven effective from south Texas all the way to Michigan. Second, they have a much larger root system, which allows them to be more drought tolerant than the spring oats. Finally, the tillers produced by each root system out number spring oats significantly. This provides a greater forage yield.

If a year round food plot is your goal, then your fall planting of cereal grains should be paired with a spring/summer seed such as clover or chicory. These are small seeds and, as mentioned above, should be planted after the cereal grains have been covered. These plants will not exhibit much growth during the fall/winter but will explode in the spring/summer period.

Now, to brassicas, this type of seed includes varieties such as rape, turnips, etc. Brassicas are not a quality food source for the southern states. The reason behind this is that they are toxic for a significant period of their growth cycle. This involves a compound called glucosinulates that are present in the plant while growing. These compounds can be toxic to deer and a condition called brassica toxicity can result if large amounts are consumed. Now, when conditions get really cold, sub freezing, all these glucosinulates are moved to the root system and the plant is no longer toxic. However, in Texas this period is typically at the end of the season with limited time left. This means that these plants have been competing with the rest of your food plot and not having any significant value.

The last common question is when to plant. The optimal time to plant is at the end of September. Most people plant their fall plots during Labor Day weekend so that they will have something to hunt over come bow season. Most years it is common to get rain in mid September and then possibly not any more till the end of October. This causes the plants to germinate, but without additional rain, they often get stressed and sometimes die before hunting season. For those that want something to hunt over during bow season, a few small plots can be planted early, but the majority of them should wait until the end of September. Large seeds such as cereal grains can sit in the soil for several months and still germinate. So get them in the ground at the end of September and pray for rain.

The final suggestion when it comes to planting any type of food plot is to place exclusion cages in each plot. This will allow you to see just how much the deer are utilizing the plot. If you are not familiar with this then a simple Google search of exclusion cages will provide all the information you need.

I hope this sheds some light on the many different types of seed options, and will help you be more informed when it comes to your choice for fall planting.
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:05 PM   #2
CookieMonster
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Good info Canny. I have learned most of this the hard way. I will say that I have seen the difference in Buck Forage Oates and other name brand and generic Oates. Also, the majority of the name brand bags of food plot seeds will at times work but only under the right conditions. For what I've spent on name brands, I used that money to get more quality and quantity of seeds from the feed store. The only problem I have now with food plots is keeping the hogs from destroying them.
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
NelsonV
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Nice write up.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:09 PM   #4
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Thanks! I too have learned alot of this the hard way.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:16 PM   #5
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Very nice writeup Canny. There has been a ton of new food plot threads popping up so this thread will certainly help.

I'll just add that Rye Grass is not a preferred deer food. Alot of the throw and grow mixes have mostly Rye Grass in them.....rip off. They will eat it when not much else is around or in a drought but its way down the list of what they prefer. The exception is the super high sugar contact rye grasses such as Tetraploid Rye Grass. Plus once established is extremely hard to get rid of.

Rye Grain (also called cereal rye and winter rye) is a grain like Winter Wheat or Oats and would work great in a throw and grow scenario. It will pretty much grow in a parking lot....just broadcast it and pray for rain. And deer like it and it builds the soil. Its much more cold tolerant than either WW or Oats and it grows in poor soils. Deer like it equally well....so if you can find it.....Cereal Rye is a great throw-n-grow option.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:31 PM   #6
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This is the kind of post we need more of on this site. Appears you are learning well at SFA Forestry School.

You will never regret becoming a Professional Forester. It is a rewarding career. Giffford Pinchot left a legacy as one of the true "Environmentalist".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifford_Pinchot

Thanks, Canny.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:01 PM   #7
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Good read. I disked up an area last year and planted one of the seed blends from the big box store. Used an ATV spreader with a drag bar behind. It grew some of the plants well, others not at all. Wish I had known more.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:24 PM   #8
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Thats a great write up. We have planted a cereal blend for the last three years, and the only year it has produced was this past season. We finally got a little rain. What do you recommend for planting around the eagle pass area, avg 20" of rain a year. Are the Tecomate seed products any more drought resistant than Buck Forage Oats? Are spring or fall food plots better for the health of the heard? Thanks again
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:55 PM   #9
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Has anyone ever tried Triticale. I'm trying it for the first time this year.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:45 AM   #10
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Just wanted to add to be careful planting any seeds when moisture is not present as the ground is alive with army worms, ants, ect. that will eat your seeds while they are waiting on mother nature to water. Seed coats and fertilizers help these problems but if you ever wondered why nothing came up, they got ate.
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Old 08-23-2012, 07:29 AM   #11
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Ttt
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Old 08-26-2012, 12:25 PM   #12
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Yesterday I went out to my place to check on things and get a new feeder setup.

Two weeks ago I had a bunch of cow pea seed that I didn't plant this spring so I just broadcast it out on a bermuda grass field with sandy soil. We had a good 3 inch rain last week and low and beyond their was a BUNCH of peas growing in that field of bermuda grass! That just goes to show you that as long as you get good soil contact....just about any seed will grow well. It was a good looking stand of peas too!
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:26 PM   #13
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Good thread, thanks for the info
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:10 PM   #14
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Where can you buy buck forage oats?
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lonestarjae View Post
Has anyone ever tried Triticale. I'm trying it for the first time this year.
Just read about this one in the TBH journal, Weishuhns article, any critiques from y'all on it?
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Old 09-23-2012, 03:08 PM   #16
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I've been thinking of trying my hand at a food plot. Thanks for the info!
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:20 AM   #17
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I made the mistake last year of mixing everything together, this year I planted the oats and peas and then came back and broadcast the turnips after I had finished the oats and peas.

Looks like I am going to get better results with the turnips by the number I see sprouting already. In a week the oats were up 2.5" and the peas were up about an inch. Lots of turnips just coming up
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:33 AM   #18
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Nice write up, thanks. Finishing up my plot today
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:47 AM   #19
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I planted oats, awp's, groundhog radishes, and crimson/durana/red clover last tuesday. After 5 days the radishes were up and looking good. Nothing else was up yet.

Need a rain.....hopefully this weekend.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:02 PM   #20
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Just read this. Great info
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:15 AM   #21
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Rye, wheat, and triticale are all in the same family and are basically the same plant with triticale being a wheat/rye hybrid. On my farms in the panhandle i find rye to be the most consistent producer of forage especially in deficient soils and drought conditions. Its has a very deep extensive root system. I think wheat and to a lesser extent triticale, have a sweeter taste and MAY be more desirable than rye, but i have had fields of rye covered up with deer right next to wheat and vice versa. I really think for a game plot rye is the best best for success.
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:11 PM   #22
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good info to have. my experience with food plots have been rewarding, seen a lot of deer in the plots year round. Oats, rye, wheat in the fall and winter and soybeans and cowpeas in the spring and summer. but for the newbees it is a lot of work if year round is your game. I would like to see everyone partake in year round feeding of game
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:05 PM   #23
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Thought I'd share some pics of my plot in Wood County. Planted it exactly 2 weeks ago, just went with the BWI seed blend and everything appears to be doing well. Forecast is calling for a couple of inches of rain over the next several days so it ought to be in pretty good shape by the time November rolls around.

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Old 10-14-2013, 12:42 PM   #24
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good looking plot... any cameras on it?
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Old 10-14-2013, 02:04 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigrrr View Post
good looking plot... any cameras on it?
Funny that you should ask, yes I have a camera set up on it that my brother checked for me on Saturday. Cool thing is he said it had taken 1282 pics in 12 days, not so cool thing is that he lost the dang SD card somewhere between the food plot and his house before getting to check it So who knows what's there.....
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Old 10-14-2013, 03:02 PM   #26
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dang the bad luck... at least you know there is something there!!! looking good!
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Old 10-14-2013, 03:14 PM   #27
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Awesome thread! I will be needing this soon!

What type of equipment are y'all using to plant?
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Old 10-14-2013, 03:34 PM   #28
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I tilled my food plot up with this chisel plow due to all the roots and grass-



Then for the first time this year instead of using a pto powered broadcaster I used this buggy from the feed store with all the seed and feritlizer mixed together.(350 lbs of seed, 1030 lbs of 21-0-21)




After I spread the seed and fertilizer I dragged the entire plot with an old set of box springs.
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