|Prepare for Fall Planting|
by Todd Amenrud
When someone mentions "fall planting," it really refers to late summer or fall depending on your location north to south. It could range from August in my home state of Minnesota to late October in Southern Mississippi or Alabama. Regardless of exactly when you accomplish the task, it’s time now to prepare.
Plan out the location and design of your plots. If you don’t have a topographical map or an aerial photo, at least sketch out your property on a piece of paper. When designing your layout consider the prevailing winds at the time you will hunt the area.
You should have had a soil analysis done. This will tell you what you might need to add for success. If you have not, the cheapest, fastest soil test that I have found is located at www.mossyoakbiologic.com. If you need to raise the soil’s pH, lime to recommendations. Lime works best if it is worked into the soil. If you have acidic soil, or a low pH, the plants will not be able to pull the soil nutrients, or your fertilizer, through their root system. So having a fairly neutral pH is important, especially for legumes.
My favorite fall planted blends are BioLogic Full Draw and Green Patch Plus. Both blends contain brassicas, annual clovers and forage wheat, while Green Patch Plus also contains oats. These two blends are my best early season bow hunting "magnets." The forage wheat and annual clovers are the most palatable right away after germination for the first month of growth. The brassicas are in the blends for a late season draw.
Another product that I use for a specific application is BioLogic Hot Spot. This blend is designed to be used off of the beaten path near your secluded tree stand location. If you don’t have the ability to get machinery back to the location or the soil conditions might be adverse, Hot Spot is the blend to use. It is a blend of wheat, winter peas and buckwheat. It’s extremely attractive to deer and incredibly
easy to plant. It comes in a shaker bag that you can use to apply the seed and it’s ideal for planting in small woodland clearings near your tree stand.
A product that I’m excited to try for the first time this fall is BioLogic Outfitter’s Blend. This blend was designed for maximum attraction power. It contains a mix of New Zealand Triticale, Austrian winter peas, wheat and oats. These plants should establish quickly and pull in deer from a great distance.
Another important step for a successful food plot is eliminating the competition for sunlight, moisture and food. You’ll want to kill the competition in the plot with Round-Up or your favorite post-emergent, contact herbicide. As opposed to springtime when doing this, you may need to mow the area first. If you spray your herbicide on weeds or grass over two feet tall, chances are you will have to treat it again. If you have tall grass or weeds, mow the area and wait a couple days to spray. The plant needs to be growing heartily for it to suck the poison into its root system, and right after mowing most plants will go inactive for a short time.
I eliminate the use for a lot of herbicide by preparing months in advance. Right after spring planting I start to work the soil for my fall planted plots. If I work the plots several times up until planting, sometimes I don’t have to use any herbicide at all.
When it comes time, plant your seeds by broadcasting or drilling. Common mistakes with small seeds is putting it on too thick and covering them up too deep. Stick to the recommended coverage rates. And, if you’ve prepared the seed bed properly you shouldn’t have to cover the seeds at all. The seeds only need to make contact with the soil. If you cover it any more than 1/4 inch, you are wasting seed. The ultimate would be if you have a cultipacker or a chain-link fence type drag.
At some point along the way you’ll also want to add some nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. You can add fertilizer when you work the soil, when you plant, or a couple weeks after the plants germinate. But at some point you want to give them some food.
One thing I for got to mention, pray that Mother Nature treats you right. Even if you do everything correctly, you need cooperation from the elements, especially for "fall plots." Hot temperatures and lack of moisture can take their toll. But if you do follow these steps and you get a little help from Mother Nature you may be surprised how well your plots turn out. You can provide optimum nutrition for your herd, grow bigger bucks and attract more deer than you ever thought possible
Todd Amenrud is the Director of Public Relations, Territory Manager & Habitat Consultant for BioLogic.