Plant a plot of winter food for wildlife
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) – For most of the state of Texas, dove hunting season has begun and wildlife enthusiasts, both spotters and hunters, would do well to plant a patch of food from the dove. winter for the next opening seasons later this fall.
Whether you’re hunting or not, this late summer / early fall planting can do several things: attract wildlife, enrich your soil, and beautify your place. For deer, dove, quail and even waterfowl, planting a food patch offers a nutritious choice that will bridge the lean season between acorn availability and spring greening.
It’s an interesting business, with hunters becoming farmers by planting crops to increase their harvest success. When talking to members of deer hunting clubs about the success of a food plot, very few are gardeners, let alone farmers. But to succeed in a food plot, many sportsmen have chosen to do gardening in order to be successful.
And it can do it all with the options you choose to plant.
There are all kinds of new and special seed combinations being sold to bring whitetail deer along with some old favorites that shouldn’t be overlooked. While there are many more options for exotic seeds, consider the proven ones.
Small grains is a term applied to rye, wheat, and oats. Unlike less desirable grasses such as ryegrass, these grains are early and nutritious growing and can produce an abundance of nutrient-rich seeds (grains). Every hunter tends to have a strong preference, but the important thing is to get him planted on time.
For shamrocks, try Arrowleaf, Crimson, or Red. Crimson gives the showiest, darkest colors and will flower earlier in the spring. Arrowleaf, on the other hand, will produce the most forage, but can last until early summer and compete with early summer grasses. Varieties of winter peas include vetch, singular peas, and Austrian winter peas.
Greens can include turnip, mustard, rapeseed, and others. If you study the contents of many commercially available wild animal seed mixes, they will list a variety of “brassica” seeds. Brassica is simply the scientific name for the species which includes turnip, mustard, and collard greens! Each local food store will have them for sale for the fall gardener and you can use them on your food plot as well.
Clovers and greens are certainly the easiest to establish because you can spread the seed with minimal soil preparation. They are small seeds and do not need to be planted deep. Peas and grains, on the other hand, have a much larger seed and will benefit greatly from a hard drive and being covered an inch deep in the soil.
The timing of planting is critical for successful wildlife food plantings. Many food plants for wild animals have different optimal planting times which are usually only a few weeks long. Planning the planting during the range of the best planting dates often means the difference between a successful food plot and one that is doomed to failure. For the recommended varieties listed above, a planting from late September to early October should work well.
Seeding rates are important. If seeding rates, measured in pounds per acre, are too low, competition from weeds and germination problems can cause a wildlife food plot to fail. As a general rule, seeding rates for establishing wildlife feeding plots should be higher than the rates recommended for commercial production of the same variety. Higher seeding rates help to ensure that a significant portion of the seeds germinate and grow.
Nutrient deficiencies in the soil can be corrected by applying the appropriate rates of fertilizer and lime. The only way to really know how much fertilizer and lime to apply is to have the soil tested.
Proper seed selection and site preparation will not guarantee a lot of money this season, but will certainly improve nutrient availability and benefit a variety of wildlife.
Copyright 2021 KTRE. All rights reserved.