Fall wildlife food plots: When to plant and how

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By Clay Stamm

It is hard to believe fall is nearly upon us. Time sure does seem to get away.

Before you know it, we will be experiencing cool, frosty mornings and changing leaves.

Email newsletter signup

If one of your goals this fall is to make your property more wildlife friendly or to have increased hunting opportunities, now is the time to start thinking outside the box.

Food plots are a great way to attract and hold more wildlife on your property, and August is an excellent time to plant those in preparation for the chilly months ahead.

Food plots can create great hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, but before you can reap the benefits of this food source, you must first invest some time, effort and money.

Some things to consider once you have decided you are going to create a food plot include: Where is the plot going to be located on your property? What is the soil fertility like there? Will the plot need supplemental fertilizer or lime? What type of seed will I sow? How will I prepare my seed bed for seeding? How much seed should I use? These are all questions that can be easily answered with some research.

Creating a wildlife sanctuary might not be as difficult as you think.

I am going to briefly run through one possible scenario of creating a fall food plot. This is a method I have personally used and had success with in years past.

The first thing I would recommend for any food plot (or ag crop for that matter) is pulling a soil sample at the plot site. At the Clark County Extension Office we can take that soil sample to the lab at University of Kentucky so there will be no guessing about the soil nutrient recommendations of your future food plot. Apply fertilizer and lime to the plot site according to the soil sample results.

Then, I would determine how to prep the seed bed. You may wish to use a herbicide to kill the vegetation in your plot site and use a no-till drill to plant the seeds.

A simpler way would be to lightly rough the site with a disk harrow or rotary tiller just enough to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Depending on the soil, a couple passes with the disk should be sufficient.

Once you have exposed soil for your seed bed, broadcast your seed using some type of seeding implement that could be powered by a tractor, ATV or by hand.

A variety of different seed types can be used but be sure it is recommended for fall planting. Also, follow seeding rates as instructed by the manufacturer or contact the Extension Office for recommendations.

Although this step is not essential, it is recommended that once the seed is on the ground, to make one pass over the site with a cultipacker or roller to ensure the best seed-to-soil contact.

At this point, you wish the seeds luck and hope for some early fall rains. I personally like to sow my food plots as early as I can in August to increase the chance of getting late summer pop-up showers on the seed for quick germination.

For further information about wildlife food plots and their functions, call the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service at 744-4682.

Clay Stamm is the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.