Green Browse Food Plots

Green Browse Food Plots

Green browse plots provide attractive and nutritious forage to complement native food supplies. They may also attract an abundance of insects which are vital for turkeys and quail during the spring and summer months.

Many types of green browse plots may be established for wildlife depending on objectives. An all-purpose plot of legumes within a thin stand of grass provides green forage for turkeys, deer and rabbits, and insects for turkeys and quail. The addition of Summit, Kobe or Korean lespedeza to the plot will provide lespedeza seed for quail, as well as green forage for other wildlife during summer periods when clovers may become dormant.

If interested primarily in deer or rabbits, plots of legumes, cereal grains, brassicas and other plants will produce much more green forage. However, such lush stands are not preferred by turkeys or quail.

Location

Select a site which is open and tillable but adjacent to suitable cover. Stay at least 50 feet from any woodland edge to reduce competition with trees and to permit the establishment of a buffer strip of perennials and shrubs between the food plot and the timber. Plots should be placed on flat ridge tops, bottom lands, or along the contour of gentle slopes.

Size and Number

For deer and turkey: The plots should be placed about 1/4 mile apart, or one per 40 acres and be a minimum of one acre in size. For rabbits: The plots should be spaced one per six acres and may be as small as 1/4 acre.

Fertilization and Seedbed Preparation

Seedbeds for green browse plots are typically prepared in August thru or early October. Fertilizer should be applied and worked into the soil at the time of seedbed preparation. However, it may be beneficial to apply lime several months in advance. Correct fertilization is essential for successful establishment and long term maintenance of the plots. If possible, a soil sample from the plots should be taken to the County Extension Office for analysis of fertilizer needs. (Emphasize the purpose of the food plot and species to be planted). Extension will then provide recommendations for both initial fertilization and annual top dressings of fertilizer. In absence of soil test recommendations, the following starter application should be sufficient.

  1. Agricultural Limestone - If the site has not been limed previously, apply 3-5 tons per acre.
  2. Fertilizer -Apply approximately 30 pounds of nitrogen (N), 90 pound of phosphorus (P) and 90 pounds of potassium (K) per acre. An application of 400 pounds per acre of 6-24-24 fertilizer will provide 24 pounds of nitrogen, 96 pounds of phosphorus and 96 pounds of potassium per acre.   Care should be taken not to apply more than 40 pounds of nitrogen plant food because it will stimulate excessive growth of grasses and weeds which may crowd out the legumes.

Seeding Method and Rate of Seeding

  1. An all-purpose plot may be uniformly seeded with 30 pounds of winter wheat and two pounds of orchard grass at the time of seedbed preparation. At the same time or in early winter, overseed half of the plot with two pounds of Ladino clover and two pounds of red clover. (During January through March, overseed the other half with ten pounds of Korean, Kobe or Summit lespedeza.) If the soil within the plot is not uniformly productive, seed the clovers on the best sites and lespedeza on the poorer sites.
  2. A plot targeting deer or rabbits may be uniformly seeded with wheat at the rate of 30 lbs per acre, along with five pounds per acre of inoculated alfalfa, ladino clover, red clover, a mixture of these. The wheat will die after the first year, but the legumes should persist and furnish succulent browse for three to five years. If an annual cool-season plot is desired for deer, a mix of species such as winter wheat, oats, cereal rye, Austrian winter peas, forage radishes and turnips may be considered. Consult a wildlife biologist for seed mix rates. 

Maintenance

Clip the plots each year between July 1 and 15 and top dress with 50 pounds of phosphate plant food and 50 pounds of potash plant food each September. Omit nitrogen fertilizer if possible. If you must use a fertilizer containing nitrogen, apply less than 20 pounds of nitrogen plant food per acre. Renovate and reseed when grasses or weeds have crowded out the desired legumes.

Protection

For maximum value to wildlife, plantings must be protected from excessive grazing. Light grazing that would remove about one-half of the growth during the last half of June is desirable in lieu of clipping. Do not graze during the fall or winter months.

Property Reminders

Gray-headed coneflower is a great seed source for quail and good forage for livestock. It blooms now through September.

Sideoats grama blooms through September

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