By Haynes Shelton
Anyone who regularly plants food plots will experience failure. It’s that simple. Though it’d be nice if every plot turned out lush and weed-free, reality is such that a multitude of complications plague good-intentioned food plotters throughout the year. In fact, challenges abound no matter your desired crop, hardiness zone or planting season. Unseasonable frosts, wet/dry soil conditions, weed competition, mechanical failure and human error; the list of potential problems goes on and on. The good news is that you can address these challenges with hard work and determination. Plan for problems, and be ready to fix those problems when they happen.
Ultimately, the success of any food plot depends on soil health and favorable weather conditions during the growing season. Timely and adequate rainfall, combined with hospitable soil/air temperatures, is critical for seed germination and survival. To maximize the success of your plot, conduct a soil test and make adjustments as recommended. Mindfully select your crop and prepare the soil accordingly. Try whenever possible to plant ahead of a forecasted rain. Especially when planting warm season plots, be prepared to battle weeds. If you’re preparing a new planting site, disturbance of the soil will almost certainly bring dormant weed seeds to the surface, allowing for germination. Applications of chemical herbicides likely will be needed to control undesirable emerging plants. This certainly holds true when establishing perennial stands, like clover or chicory, which will take more time to establish.
Most importantly, manage your expectations. Food plots don’t need to be perfectly manicured to be attractive to whitetails. Establishing ample amounts of desirable forage is the main goal. So, be patient as you manage the land. The satisfaction you’ll receive from improving wildlife habitat is worth the wait.