Food Plot Management

Published on: May. 10, 2009

large fields into smaller management units. Doing so, will provide a variety of habitat types adjacent to each other. Consider establishing covey headquarters or downed tree structures along the edge of the food plots to provide shrubby cover. Disk firebreaks around the new covey headquarters before burning. The disked fire break can also be planted to a food plot.

•Avoid areas where erosion is a concern. Select a level area and always plant on the contour.

•Food plots should be at least 30 feet wide. Wider is better so you can idle half of the plot every year.

Establishment

•No-till is best. In the spring, spray the plots with glyphosate to burn down any existing vegetation. If needed, mow the plot before planting. The residue left by practicing no-till will harbor insects and other beneficial invertebrates--the stuff baby quail eat during the summer.

•Research has shown that conventional tilled crop fields have significantly fewer insects than fields where no-till is practiced. The same would also apply to food plots. If you disk the plot, don’t pulverize the ground. Leave some residual plant material. One or two passes should be enough. If you “clean till” the plot, do not use herbicides on the plot or use selective herbicides.

•Make sure to take a soil test, and lime and fertilize accordingly. Proper fertilization is essential on nutrient poor soils and especially for corn and sunflower plots.

•Trees along the edge of a food plot will significantly reduce production. You should also realize that trees along the south and west side of a food plot will have a greater impact on the plot than those on the north or east side. You can fix this by edge feathering the trees along the edge of the food plot.

Crop Choices

•I prefer forage sorghum, Egyptian wheat and milo in my food plot buffets. I usually mix forage sorghum with milo to hide the milo from deer. Millets are also a good choice, especially for late planted food plots (June – July). Cast your vote on what grain is best for bobwhite quail.

•Corn, sunflowers and soybeans are a good second choice, but raccoons and deer love them all. These food plots should be 1/4 acre or larger if you want any grain to remain for the winter.

•I usually avoid any specialty mixes. I can make my own mixes. A couple of my favorite mixes are: 1) Roundup Ready soybean and

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