I was walking around the farm the other day and noticed last year's "succotash" food plot looked rather pathetic (Aaron's Succotash Food Plot Recipe - a 50:50 mix of glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans). Most of the corn stalks were bare or had been knocked down by wildlife or my two boys (also known as wildlife). With a little searching I did find a few skimpy bean stalks, but no beans. I was surprised to find a few ears of corn tucked away in the center of the plot.
The food plot sounds pretty worthless for wildlife, but actually the plot is a wildlife mecca. The old food plot was choked full of ragweed, cranesbill, fleabane and a variety of other annual plants. The idle plot also provides overhead cover and plenty of bare ground--everything a quail could need or want. This year I'm leaving the old succotash food plot alone--no planting, mowing or disking it. The plot will grow up into a jungle of ragweed, pigweed and mare's-tail--ideal brooding cover this summer and excellent roosting cover this fall. Other wildlife like idle food plots.
Later that day I jumped a hen turkey off a nest that was located on the edge of an idle forage sorghum plot. Her well hidden nest was tucked up under a cut cedar tree (my favorite type of cedar tree) on the edge of the plot. She had 10 eggs in the nest. I hope she comes back. On several occasions I've found turkey nests in idle food plots or very close to food plots. Rabbits also like to nest in idle food plots. In fact, I often disk my food plots in March to avoid destroying rabbit nests. I'm not surprised that rabbits are attracted to idle food plots. The plots are full of annual plants--the perfect rabbit browse.
Flip-Flop a Food Plot
This spring consider flip-flopping a food plot by leaving all or part of the plot idle. The idled area will grow up in annual weeds and provide ideal brooding cover for bobwhites. If the plot is less than 1/4 acre leave the entire area idle. If the plot is larger than 1/4 acre, then leave one side idle and plant the other half. Next year plant the idled half and leave the other half idle. Idling a food plot will give you more time to plant a food plot elsewhere or to do other habitat work you have been putting off (i.e. edge feathering or spraying fescue).
Over the summer watch the idle plot closely. Notice the amount of bare ground and adequate overhead cover. You might also find a covey of quail in that flip-flopped food plot!
Habitat is the Key!