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Food Plot Management

Published on: May. 10, 2009

corn; 2) forage sorghum and milo; and 3) soybean/sunflower and milo.

•Don’t overlook the value of winter wheat as a quail food plot. Not for the green browse or the seed, but for the great brooding cover and stand of ragweed and weeds you will have the next summer. Over the winter you can over-seed the wheat with annual lespedeza.

•Plant only the amount of seed needed. Most people plant food plots way too thick and end up with green growth and very little grain. If the rate says 15 pounds per acre, use 15 pounds. I’d even consider cutting the rate in half!

Management

•Generally, I avoid using herbicides on most food plots. A weedy plot is better for quail than a clean, weed-free food plot. However, sometimes herbicides are needed to guarantee a crop or to control unwanted plants like dock, cocklebur or Johnson grass. If possible, try to use a selective herbicide or a reduced herbicide rate to leave some weeds in the plot. For example, in a soybean plot consider using a grass herbicide to control grasses like foxtail. By the end of the year you will have a good stand of beans with lots of ragweed, water hemp and pigweed--all good quail foods.

•“Flip-flop your food plot." The picture below is a great example of how to "flip-flop your food plot." Make your food plots at least 60 feet wide. Instead of planting the entire plot each year, only plant one half and leave the other half idle. The idle half will provide nesting and brooding cover and great roosting cover in the fall and winter. The next year, plant the idled half and leave the other half idle. If your plots are small, leave the entire plot idle for a year and just rotate among food plots.

 

•Every three or five years plant plots to alfalfa or annual lespedeza. Adding a legume to your food plot rotation will help build soil fertility and provide good brooding cover and food. I usually over-seed all my winter wheat plots with annual lespedeza or alfalfa.

This spring when you get the fever to plant your food plots, make sure you take the time to prepare good nesting, brooding and shrubby cover first. Planting food plots is fun and a great way to enjoy the spring. However, remember that even a good food plot will not make up for poor quail habitat elsewhere on your farm.

Habitat is the Key!

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