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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Re: Starting a Food Plot

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Billy NY

11-27-2012 15:42:34

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I've fooled with food plots in our overgrown fields to provide forage, it works well to say the least and if you can get a good stand of forage established, be it annual or perennial, strategically staged, so there's always high protein, palatable forage vs mature growth they shy away from, it sure seems worth the work for the benefit.

Your tractor can do the job, but with conventional tillage, your plow and disc. To break that sod, it is highly advisable to set this plow up correctly, replace worn shares, make sure its level both ways in the furrow, and or observe what its doing and make corrections, so that the sod is completely turned under to get a good kill. When the plow does not completely turn the sod, you will get patches, strips etc, of unwanted weeds or other undesirable growth, necessitating spraying to kill those plants and establish your stand of forage, more so in a spring planting. Also be aware of erosion and compaction if they are an issue and can inhibit root structure. Once you are able to get that plow performing as it should, sometimes I'll let it sit for a short period, dry out or kill off what was growing, then disc it in, make sure its set up and adjusted right, you can apply the old tillage or farming practices, disc at an angle or whatever works. Depending on the soil, due to small seed size you may want to use a cultipacker to firm up the seed bed. I'm familiar with whitetail institute products, follow the instructions to the letter, and you can get a good stand, I've done imperial clover with good success, no plow or no till (but till anyway)the latter will come in nice, but if you want it young for archery, mid summer might be the best time to plant that. In a sense its like small time farming, using older equipment and practices, but without serious detriment if something goes wrong, its a lot of fun to do and observe growing, in my humble opinion.

A very inexpensive forage is oats, whitetail deer, will feed on the regrowth or new growth I can get to come back by actually plowing and using the disc, all depends on rain too, but I tilled a pair of strips in a harvested oat field, and it came in lush again, without seed, it looked like someone cut it with a mower, deer just browsed it heavily. Although a cold weather kind of grass to plant, oats seem to grow just fine for this purpose if planted in August around here. I plow, make one pass with the disc, its not a real heavy one, then broadcast oats thick, make one more pass and it grows just fine for this purpose, depending on the weather, can last right thru rifle season here, even though it tans out, they go for the base of the plant or roots or something sweet, I have not planted anything in 2 years, the difference in overall deer traffic is very noticeable, especially the bucks, its an excellent draw and it will certainly help the locals to fatten up for a harsh winter, I had 7 + acres of this in 2010, some smaller plots fresh planted and when I took a deer, the stomach contents was all grass, nice fat on them, and I found no dead ones come spring and it was a harsh winter, in '02 it was in corn, and I did find several dead, most likely from the hard winter. I try and cut the unused fields later so that theres a nice green growth in the fall, nice 2nd cut orchard grass mostly, it gives them even more to browse, and something to dig up under the snow. Its tanning a bit, but right now as I type, there are close to a dozen out there grazing it and likely to bed down in it. Deer can be a pain with a garden, the darned ticks and all, but its tolerable as they do provide quite a bit of food, and or reserve food in my freezer. I enjoy doing the planting, observing them in their natural state, bucks fighting, playing, etc, when just scouting, as well as knowing I've likely helped them a bit for the winter, ones taken benefit me, the remainder make use of what I've done. When things are real harsh outside, I will pile cracked corn in cleared areas, always half a dozen at the house. Though I curse them sometimes, they grazed off my corn this year, I try and look at the bigger picture, and I suppose a fence and whatever necessary can be done to keep them out of my larger garden next year.

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