Food Plot Establishment Help

apawenski

Yearling... With promise
Hello All,

I have been a reader for a while, but have never posted anything and I was hoping for some input on my food plotting endeavors. For some background, I just started "attempting" to grow some food plots for deer about a year ago. I am fortunate enough to have access to a 35 HP tractor, tiller, as well as a tine plow, disc plow and cultipacker for an ATV. I also have a nice ATV seeder. Point being, I have most of the tools necessary to do what needs to be done.

I should also probably mention I am trying to control weeds using tillage/discing/ cover crops only, and establishing a consistent stand of clover, which I can seed lightly with some winter rye and brassic/tubers each year. ,I am okay with having a few weeds, and am trying to avoid using herbicides if possible by planting at the right time/using weed suppressing cover crops etc.

I have two decent open areas (limited shade, plenty of sun) to plant my plots. Both are around a 1/4 of an acre. I started out in March this year and took some soil samples. The results are attached below. I am dealing with mostly silty/clay loam in the Southern Tier of New York, which doesn't exactly drain very well, but can be improved. The lime recommendations were pretty rough for the New Property Plot (around 2 tons per acre) and not terrible for the Box Blind plot (1,900 lbs per acre).

Having learned from my failures last year, I decided to do things right. In late June, me and a few other people tilled in both fields with the recommended lime amounts for each plot. I have yet to take any new soil tests, but I assuming I will be pretty close to getting both plots to 6.0 by this November once it has a chance to work its way through the soil . I waited about 2 weeks, then decided to broadcast and cultipack some buckwheat into both. The weeds were nearly no existent when I planted. My original plan was to grow the buckwheat until late august, seed winter rye and some white/durana clover into both, apply the recommended amounts of fertilizer, mow it, roll it with a cultipacker and see what happens.

Two weeks later (about the time when the buckwheat should have been established from the extension research I have done), I came back and almost nothing had grown. I was very disappointed, but have read that heavy rain/planting buckwheat in limestone heavy soils will cause this. I tried a last ditch red wheat planting two weeks later (yes bad idea, also used the same seeding/packing method) with similar results.

At this stage, the New Property plot has maybe 5-10% vegetation cover (weeds and seeds included), while the Box Blind plot has grown in with weeds and some of the buckwheat seeds that did germinate.

At this point, I just need something growing which will prevent soil erosion/attract deer in both of these areas. I understand clover is probably not a good idea this year, so I am looking into other options. I think my best bet is to plant a combo of oat/winter rye, ride the season out with that in the ground, then restart the cover crop process again next year possibly with daikon radish/buckwheat to increase drainage/organic matter in the soil. However, my primary concern is this season. I can't afford to miss out on having food plots again this season,.

If anybody could provide me with any advice, I would be very appreciative.
 

Attachments

  • Whitetail Soil Test (New Plot).PDF
    149.7 KB · Views: 21

S.T.Fanatic

5 year old buck +
Your poor results may be due to your low CEC. In essence, your soil doesn't have the nutrients or have the ability to hold the nutrients needed to grow crops. This is partially due to your low PH and it will increase some once you lime kicks in. As for moving forward, I'd say to plant 100# of rye per plot in about a month. (disk/till lightly just enough to kill the weeds and have about 1" of loose soil exposed before planting.) Next year around June 20th or so disk it in and try the buckwheat again.
 

4wanderingeyes

5 year old buck +
I agree with ST, I would also put some clover in there. The seed is cheap, and if it takes, great, if not, you aren’t out much. Clover and winter rye is the back bone to my food plots. I will plant a summer plot as well, but most years I seed winter rye, and clover into them around Labor Day.

One thought is, did your seed get buried to deep? If you worked the soil up, the seeds may have gotten to deep.
 
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apawenski

Yearling... With promise
I know I can eliminate burying the seeds too deep. After tilling in the lime, I ran the cultipacker over both plots twice to firm up the seed bed, then cultipacked again after seeding to press the seeds in, nothing was disced in.

Are oats worthwhile, or should I just stick with a straight winter rye plot?
 

TenPoint

5 year old buck +
I know I can eliminate burying the seeds too deep. After tilling in the lime, I ran the cultipacker over both plots twice to firm up the seed bed, then cultipacked again after seeding to press the seeds in, nothing was disced in.

Are oats worthwhile, or should I just stick with a straight winter rye plot?
Our deer loved the oats I planted last year. More so than the WR. I’m planting both again but more heavy on the oats.
 

rocksnstumps

5 year old buck +
Sounds like your first go around you disked but waited a couple weeks before seeding and might even have cultipacked before throwing out any of your bigger seed.

My advice would be to run your disk thru once just to scuff up the dirt some and immediately throw out your bigger seeds like rye or buckwheat. Now run cultipacker 1st pass. After that throw out some clover. Run cultipacker 2nd time. Plan to do this right before a decent chance of rain in forecast. Works well for me. My soil when tested a long time ago was 5.8 ph. Shit grows, I dont sweat it.
 

ruskbucks

5 year old buck +
I know I can eliminate burying the seeds too deep. After tilling in the lime, I ran the cultipacker over both plots twice to firm up the seed bed, then cultipacked again after seeding to press the seeds in, nothing was disced in.

Are oats worthwhile, or should I just stick with a straight winter rye plot?
When I plant bigger seeds like wr, oats, bean I don't cultipack first. They like to be a little deeper. Small seeds brassicas/clover cultipack once seed and pack again. Heavy soils might pack to hard and not allow good germination. I would just stick with wr.
 

TenPoint

5 year old buck +
I planted brassicas last night with a pea/oat mixture. I tilled. Spread fertilizer and the peas/oats. Dragged. Packed. Then seeded brassicas. Didn’t have time to pack again. Getting poured on now. Hopefully it doesn’t all wash away. This should be great for the throw and mow brassicas I did last week.
 

Kdog

5 year old buck +
Rye is a great option as it has natural weed suppression, germinates quickly, deer will browse it and it will protect your clover. You can add in other cereal grains if you are more interested in attracting wildlife this fall, but I would use more rye if weeds are an issue and you do not plan to spray. Keep in mind that I am in GA, so things may be a little different for you.

Cereal grains - 100# per acre
White clover - 10# per acre
Medium red clover - 10# per acre

If the plots are 1/4 acre each, you are only looking at 50# of cereal grains and 10# of clover. Durana or Aberlasting are great white clover options, but look at what grows best in your area. Same for the medium red clover then fertilize per the recommendations for the clover plot. If your deer will eat crimson clover, you can sling some of that as well. The deer on my property don't really eat it, so we do not use it anymore. You could also add in some brassicas.

Take some pictures to share and let us know how it turns out.
 

apawenski

Yearling... With promise
Not cultipacking prior to spreading the bigger seeds was something I considered, so I will try that. In terms of a drag, I made one last year out of an old box bring, but it only lasted a season. Seeing that I do not want to make another one, should I just run the disc (shallow depth) over the plot again after the seed is on the ground for the same effect?

Also, is the winter rye itself going to need fertilizer, so would this be mainly for the clover?
 

apawenski

Yearling... With promise
Also, any thoughts on substituting the clover for turnips seeded at a similar rate around Sept 1 with the winter rye?
 

4wanderingeyes

5 year old buck +
That will be a little late for turnips. But I don’t remember where you are located.
If this is your first year, keep it simple, get it limed, add the fertilizer it needs, plant winter rye and clover. It will grow some this fall, and next spring. Then next year plant other things.
 

jsasker007

5 year old buck +
Rye should be fine without fertilizer.
 

Bassattackr

5 year old buck +
A few points to consider..

I waited about 2 weeks, then decided to broadcast and cultipack some buckwheat into both.

1) Curious, did you till (or lightly till/disc) again before broadcasting and packing? You also mention heavy rains at some point.. IF the ground had crusted in the interim 2 weeks after tilling, and you only broadcasted and packed with crusted soil, this is likely the issue, especially with slightly larger seed like buckwheat. FYI - Buckwheat can be seeded down to about 1.5" depth and still emerge.

As others have eluded to, for larger seeds, you would want to do these steps (in the below order, on the same day). If you cultipacked before spreading the larger seed, that could be the issue.

1) Disc/Till
2) Broadcast
3) Cultipack

Beyond timely rains, poor seed bed prep is probably the #2 cause of plot failure. I can tell you in the Ag world, seed placement is everything.

2) I wouldn't get hung up on what to plant, keep it simple with some sort of cereal grain and clover variety - something that will take the browse given your smaller plot size. Both can take some periods of shade as well. Don't underestimate what a simple cereal rye and clover plot can do.

See post #31:


3) Don't sell yourself short on your soil situation, you can grow more than you realize. I'm in Central MO, we have plenty of clay based soil here as well, at a pH of 5.6 and CEC of 9.9, beyond cereal grains and clover mixes I've still been able to grow soybeans, millet, milo successfully.

End 2.jpg

Milo4f.jpg

There are no such thing as failures in the food plotting world, only learning experiences.. :emoji_slight_smile::emoji_thumbsup:

The results will come, good luck!
 
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apawenski

Yearling... With promise
Thanks guys, this got way more of a response then I initially anticipated. I have some "Buck Draw" seed from Merit laying around from last year to use as screening cover. I might just throw that in this weekend with some fertilizer on the edges of the plots to see how that does using the techniques discussed above.
 
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