Deer Food Plots 2009
Food Plots difficult in Hot Dry Georgia
The ODHA deer food plots in 2009 did not do as well as expected. We tried soy beans, grain sorghum,
peas, turnips and Evolve Harvest Seed Blends but only the sorghum and turnips grew well. The year
started off well with plenty of rain, but August was dry as usual and that was bad for everything but the
sorghum. It grew like corn in Iowa. Below is a pic taken around September 1st and you can see the
turnips growing like crazy and a nice stand of sorghum. This was the first time we tried sorghum. It was a
bargain of Georgia Outdoor Network at only $8.88 for 50 pound bag. They also had soy beans. We planted
150 lbs of soy beans that either did not come up or were eaten as soon as they broke ground. All the sorghum grew well and you can see in the photo below what a pound of turnips can do.
Seed heads are now forming in mid September..Hope we planted the Sorghum early enough for the seed
heads to mature before frost. Fifty pounds of soy beans and couple of pounds of peas were planted in this plot and you can hardly find a bean or pea plant.
By the middle of September the turnips were about a foot tall and thick as could be when the deer
discovered them and started to mow them down, then proceeded to dig up the turnips and eat them too. My first deer a nice 9pt buck, was taken on Sept 30th with a mouth full of turnips. The good news is that
there is still time in October to plant turnips again before a freeze.
Waiting to see if the deer eat the Sorghum heads. The heads are full size but not fully matured at Oct 1st.
Jan 2010- I think the sorghum was a waste of time..it grew well but provide little for the deer. The turnips (seed from Athens Seed Co., Athens, GA) did great and the deer ate them like candy..this fall turnips will
be the basis of my plots along with the clover that keeps coming back now for the last few years. The
turnips provided food into the winter, coming back after the deer ate them down. The turnips are easy to grow and will grow in my not so great soil.
Westervelt News Letter Food Plot Tips
1. Obtain soil samples and test nutrient and pH composition.
2. Disk required lime into soil at least six months prior to planting date to properly amend soil pH to desired
level (most food plot plants grow best in 6.0 – 7.0 soil pH). Applying lime at planting time is not ideal, but is better than not doing it at all.
3. Two weeks prior to planting date - Prepare seedbed by plowing, disking, or tilling. Plow first, allow time
for soil to settle, then plow or till again to create a clean smooth seedbed. This is also when you want to
incorporate the required fertilizer into the growing zone (top 6 inches of soil), leaving a smooth, bare-ground
field. Avoid leaving deep ruts or cuts in the field which will result in "seed collectors" when you broadcast seed. Seeds that land in these areas will get covered too deep and will not germinate.
4. Watch the weather. Ideal planting conditions occur during the recommended planting dates, when soil
has good moisture and rain is forecasted within a week after planting date. A good rule of thumb when
testing the soil for adequate planting moisture is to grab a handful of soil, making a fist. If the soil compacts
and stays together making a ball, soil moisture is good. If the soil does not stick together well (even in sand), it is probably too dry to plant.
5. Sow large seeds (e.g., wheat, oats, Austrian winter peas, etc)
6. Drag the field to lightly cover the seed. Do not cover seed deeper than one inch.
7. Firm the seedbed with a cultipacker (optional, but preferred). This step will serve two purposes: it will
ensure the larger seed has good seed-to-soil contact, and it will create a very smooth, firm seedbed for the
smaller clover seeds to be planted on.
8. Sow small seed (e.g., clovers, chicory,etc)
9. Cultipack seedbed again to push small seed into seedbed ensuring good soil contact and improve
germination rate. If you do not have a cultipacker, simply broadcast the small seed and do not cover.
Commonly Made Mistakes:
1. Failing to amend soil with required lime. More important than what you plant, proper soil pH makes
nutrients (fertilizer) available for the plants.
2. Planting more seed than needed. Too much seed will result in crowding, stunted growth, or plant mortality. Stick with recommended rates.
3. Planting seed too deep. Seeds planted too deep will not germinate. This is primarily caused by
planting on unprepared rough fields, or by disking too deep when covering seed.
4. Planting under unfavorable soil moisture conditions. Successful food plot farmers monitor soil conditions prior to planting dates, watch the weather and plant accordingly.
5. Planting too early. Many food plot farmers get fooled into planting too early by an early cold front or rain event. Planting too early can result in less attractive, knee high plots when hunting season arrives.
6. Not inoculating legumes (e.g., clovers). Inoculates contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria needed by legumes to grow well.