Flooded Crops


Flooded grain crops can be very beneficial for waterfowl. They provide a source of high-energy food, especially late in the winter when the weather is extremely cold.

Flooded grain crops can be a wetland-management tool, but they should not be used as the only wetland management practice. Scattering food plots throughout a wetland can help set back plant succession in the following growing season and can provide hunting cover and waterfowl food in the upcoming fall.

What to Plant

Grain crops are a source of high energy, but they will not provide all the nutritional requirements of migrating waterfowl. Combine agricultural crops and natural foods to provide a more balanced diet. This is critical for ducks moving through Missouri because it meets their energetic needs for migration and essential nutrients and amino acids to molt feathers.

Two men standing in front of flooded corn and sorghum field
Crop field reflooding provides high-energy food for migrating waterfowl.
MDC staff
Right to Use

Crops planted specifically for waterfowl do not need to be clean-tilled because the weeds will provide additional food.

When to Flood

Corn or grain sorghum should be flooded from Oct. 15 to March 30.

If Storms Cause Flooding

If the wetland pool experiences a late summer flood and vegetation is damaged or killed, all may not be lost. Late-season grasses like sprangletop or sedges may germinate in the moist soil of the food plots after the flood and offset the loss of crops. Another option is to broadcast wild or Japanese millet (15 pounds per acre) on the mudflats. The plants will be small but will provide food for the fall migrating birds.

Holding water from a late summer flood is another way to make the best of a bad situation and reduce the need for flooding later that fall. Aquatic invertebrates, fish, and wetland plants may thrive in these conditions. Each flood and year is different. It is necessary to remain flexible with management strategy and desired plant community when managing wetlands over time.