Food Plots: Seed Savvy
Bob McNally 05.22.15
So you’ve decided to plant food plots for deer on your hunt property, but what seed should you put in the ground? Wheat? Oats? Rye? Barley? Or one of the dozens of newer, generally better, plot plants designed specifically for wildlife?
Almost anything you sow will help deer and other game, but most wildlife biologists believe certain plants high in protein that are very “digestible” to deer and tolerant to the geographic location, are best. This can be confusing because there are at least 100 different types of plants used for wildlife in the southeastern U.S. alone.
The easiest way to help choose what to plant on your land is to check with other local hunters and learn what works for them. Next, decide if you want to plant the plot in spring-summer or fall-winter. Next, let a soil analysis lead you to the best seeds. Some plant varieties have very specific soil needs, like dry or loamy. Others need lots of rain. Some plants require more sun than the rest.
Decide, too, whether you’re planting solely for deer or if you also want plants that aid turkeys, quail, pheasants, even ducks, and rabbits.
The Pennington Seed Company (Madison, Georgia, phone 800-285-SEED) publishes a “Wild Game Catalog” that’s a wealth of information on plot seed selection. It recommends when certain seeds should be planted according to their geographic location. It lists what animals plants are best for, and how much seed must be planted per acre. The catalog also offers fertilizing tips and expert remarks on each of dozens of seed types.
Plants extra-high in protein are choice for deer food plots. The Whitetail Institute’s (phone 800-688-3030) Imperial Whitetail Cover, Imperial No-Plow and Alfa-Rack are all plot plants getting good reviews from hunters and game managers.
Some biologists recommend hunters use a mix of wildlife seeds for plots. Seed mixes are available from many companies, or you can mix your own, combining various clovers and alfalfas for example. A good seed mix helps insure against complete crop failure due to rain, drought, frost, etc.
Another way to plant a plot is to put, say, BioLogic on one area of the site and Pennington Deer Mix in yet another region. Such a seed “mix” should insure deer on your hunt property get plenty of nutrition, and they’ll be there during hunting season, too.