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When and How to Plant Food Plots
Asking for my Nephew who just recently bought some property. when and what do you plant, we are in Illinois, and what do you use to prepare the ground before planting. Plow ,disc, ?. Any and ALL information is welcome. Kurt
Green CoverFall Release
Green CoverFall Release
First, get a soil test. You can go through your county possibly, I’m in Texas so don’t know how it works there. I use Whitetail Institute for mine. If planting in the spring, plant when your soil temp is 60* or better at mid-morning two inches deep. You can use a cheap meat thermometer. There are many things you can plant, I suggest going on YouTube and finding Dr. Grant Woods Growing Deer TV. I don’t take everything he says as gospel but he has some good info. The Green Cover blends he plants are of course his sponsors, but it is good seed. I planted it last year and it should work for you. Planting in the fall is probably later here than where you are because of the temps. I plant in September if there’s enough moisture, if not I plant early October moisture or not. I’m pretty big on Elbon rye and annual clovers in the fall, the rye helps suppress weed growth and the clovers will come on strong in the spring.
As for equipment, I can’t afford Dr. Woods’ drill for food plots, so I use a disc and drag method. It works for me. First, if there is lots of vegetation, I burn it down with glyphosate, and no, I don’t believe it causes cancer anywhere except California. This is when I will put down as much lime as the soil needs to get the ph up to neutral. Lime recommendation should be on your soil test. Then I will disc it just enough to turn the vegetation under. I will then drag it with my homemade tire drag, just five pickup tires chained together, two in front, three in back. After I drag it as smooth as possible, I’ll adjust my disc to barely open and disc it again. This will leave shallow grooves in the soil and I’ll be ready to fertilize and plant. I put fertilize down first as recommended on the soil test, then my seed. I will then drag it again to cover the seed and I’m done. After a couple years of this, you might find that you only have to disc a couple inches deep and then plant, it depends on your soils. Good luck !
Pick your intended crop, soil test for that crop, make the recommended amendment. Site prep methods vary with crop. If you're looking to do a winter rye/wheat/oats crop you'll need pH over 6, and some added N for sure, prep bare ground with disc or tiller in the spring, add amendment and till in, work it up again late summer and sow or drill in seeds. If you are doing legumes like clover, alfalfa, soybeans, pH needs to be 6.5 to 7, if you need lime add it 6 months before planting. Make sure to use inoculated seed or seed inoculations. Sow or drill soybeans or alfalfa on fresh bare ground in spring after last frost. Frost seed clovers in late winter or early spring. You can till lightly for clovers or just frost seed if there's very little leaf litter. I like to burn when possible before frost seeding clovers.
Get a good burn down the first couple years with herbicide. Also after you get your soil sample contact your local cooperative agronomist for soil amendment recommendations for what your planting. It will save you a bunch of money guarenteed