The Pros and Cons to Food Plots - Think Outside the Food Plot!

Published on: May. 26, 2009

Last weekend I finished planting the food plots at the farm. Most of the plots are a mix of forage sorghum, milo and soybeans. I have one large plot of glyphosate resistant corn and beans mixed together--better known as the succotash plot. Today's rain should get the sorghum plots going and we need some warm weather for the corn. I have a suspicion the sorghum plots were once again seeded too heavily. I do it every year. A little extra seed here and a little extra there. I can't even listen to my own advice on following seeding rates. I'll have to find a way to thin out the plots. It would have been easier to seed them at the right rate.

I have a feeling over the weekend several other landowners were busy planting food plots. It's late May, which means turkey season is over (at least in Missouri), the crappie spawn is almost over, the mushrooms have disappeared and the fields have finally dried out enough to work (at least in parts of the state). Some landowners will work feverishly into the night--in dry fields and wet fields--to plant their food plots before returning home.

Some landowners and hunters will tell you food plots are essential if you want to have good quail habitat. The truth is a well managed warm-season grass field with a variety of forbs and legumes and shrubby cover is much more attractive to quail than a grass field with only a food plot. I admit planting food plots is fun, but planting food plots is probably the last thing you should do for quail on your property. Making sure you will have good brooding, nesting and shrubby cover is more important than planting food plots each spring. Below is an average food plot on the farm. Notice the forage sorghum in the background with ragweed in the foreground and downed cedars (shrubby/woody cover) to the left.

Pros to Planting Food Plots

•Grain food plots can provide a dependable food source for wildlife when native food sources are scarce. No surprise here. If you plant food plots, wildlife will likely use them. It is like putting a pizza in front of a bunch of high school boys. Give them food and they will eat it!

•Grain food plots create an annual disturbance, which produces good brooding cover for quail. By disking the soil, you will

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