Dr. Deer: How to Properly Plant Your Whitetail Food Plot

seeds_1Although food plots and articles about them have become pretty much old hat, I still am amazed how many mistakes folks make in establishing a food plot. Chief among these is improper planting of seeds. Since spring-summer planting season is on the way, I thought I would go back over the right way to plant your deer crop.


First of all, the seeds produced by each plant species have been "designed" by eons of natural selection to assure the propagation of the species. Seeds come in all sizes and shapes, depending on the strategy being used to reproduce.


For example, fruits usually have nutritious coatings, not because the plant wants to help the animals that eat its seeds, but to lure them into eating the fruit and transporting the seed somewhere else! Since plants do not have legs, it is a pretty sharp idea.

Seeds also are produced with very hard outer coatings to assure germination at some future time, which may be the next year or several years later after the coating decays. Other seeds have to undergo a period of cold dormancy before they will germinate. Therefore, in order to be successful in your planting program, you will have to simulate what Mother Nature intended. Here are some suggestions.


First, the size of each seed tells you a lot about its cultural requirements. In general, very small seeds are intended to be deposited either on top of the ground or just under the surface. Planting such seeds too deep will result in loss of your crop, or, in the case of very hard-coated seeds, germination at some time in the future.

Subsequent soil preparation such as disking, might bring to the surface seeds planted long ago, allowing them to germinate. Plants such as clovers often produce seeds with variable coatings so they will germinate over time, thus assuring success to the plant. So, clovers can be pretty foolproof because of this characteristic.

Larger seeds often indicate they must be planted at a greater depth. Cereal grains and large-seeded legumes are good examples. Most cereal grains should be planted at depths ranging 1.5 to 2 inches.

Make sure you're planting in soil that is conducive to growing. Dr. Deer discusses what you can do to improve your food plot soil:

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