It would be nice if we could just walk into the woods and throw out seed anywhere and have it
grow.  Of course, it just doesn't work that way.

Can you grow something in the middle of the woods?  Well, is there anything growing there now
(brush, weeds, grass)?  Keep in mind that most food plots require at least 50% sunlight every day.

The best place for your plot is an open spot that is easily accessible to you and your plot tillage,
planting, and mowing equipment.  It all depends on what you plan on using, a tractor, four-
wheeler, hand tools, etc.

Use some method of working up the soil to provide the best possible seed bed (plow, disk, drag,
rake, ... anything to expose the dirt).  Even a four-wheeler and one section of an old harrow will
work in most situations.  If the grass and brush is tall or heavy, clear it away before attempting to
work up the soil.

The best possible situation is to use a grain drill or no-till drill after preparing a good seed bed.  
This will provide the highest germination and the best looking food plot.  If you are using a hand
seeder, please remember that clover seeds are very small, a little goes a long way.  The listed
rates per acre are our recommendations.

All clovers in our mixes are pre-inoculated and only need to be planted 1/4" below the surface (if
broadcast seeding, this can be done by spreading the seed on top followed by dragging or raking
the dirt to bury the seed slightly).  Clovers should be cut 2-3 times per year for optimal
performance, protein value, and weed control, unless the stand is being kept under 10" by
grazing.  Make sure to leave some height for overwintering.

If you are putting your food plot where the soil hasn't been worked up for a while or has been
neglected, you may be uncovering dormant weed seeds.  Some weed seeds can remain dormant
for decades.  Keeping your plot mowed will give your plants the best opportunity to excel.

If you have your soil tested, this will provide you with the recommended fertilizer needs for your
particular food plot.  If you have not soil tested, we recommend using fertilizer at least once a year
in the spring, twice a year if possible  in the spring and fall.  For alfalfa and clovers, a blend with
less nitrogen is best 9-23-30 or 10-20-30 or close.  For all others, 17-17-17,  20-20-20 or similar.

Soil Fertility
Always try to have a soil sample done on your food plot before planting, preferably 6 months prior
to planting.  Contact your local County Extension office for information on soil testing.  Clovers can
handle a low pH on some soil types but not on others.  6.7-6.9 is optimal; this ensures proper soil
structure and helps plants perform to their best ability by being able to utilize all available
nutrients.  We have seen clovers come up, grow to be 1-2 inches, then die because of bad pH.  
Most wildlife food plots tend to be acidic due to their location and wildlife populations.  Don't invest
your time and money in a good food plot only to have it fail due to bad pH -- have your soil tested!

If your seed comes up, begins to grow, then dies, you more than likely have a fertility problem.

Soil Types
Most soil types are acceptable.  Sand can be difficult though.  If gotten in early, alfalfa, red clover,
chicory, canola (rape), and turnips can be planted in sandy soil, provided you check your fertility,
we get plenty of rain and don't have a hot, dry summer. It's often best to wait for fall planting -- we
suggest trying winter rye or winter wheat, canola (rape), and turnips.

Weed Control
Controlling weeds in your wildlife food plot can be difficult, but is extremely important for the
success of your plot.  Keep in mind that most weeds are annuals and spread seeds during the
previous year.  Some seeds can remain dormant in the soil for years and will sprout once you
have provided the right growing conditions by clearing the area and planting your food plot (this is
especially common with ground that has not been cultivated for many years).  Start by providing a
good seed bed and eliminating the weeds that are there prior to planting.  
There are many ways to do this:
  1. Use an all-vegetation herbicide according to the directions on the label, prior to working up the soil.
    Use good cultivation to work up the soil and expose the roots of weeds currently growing.
  2. A controlled burn may be possible for your area.  Check with local officials and obtain the necessary
    permits and training if this is an option for you.
  3. Provide fertile soil, weeds may tend to grow better in infertile conditions, and your food plot seeds
    have a better chance in pH-balanced, fertile soil.  

Once you have planted, it is important to keep up with weed control the entire growing season.
  1. MOW YOUR FOOD PLOT!  We can't stress this enough.  When?  Whenever the weeds are
    overshadowing the clover (or other food plot plants)...before weeds go to seed (it's important to keep
    those seeds from forming)...when the stand gets too high (keep it under 10").  Mowing is a great weed
    control method, when done often enough.  Leave your plot a little higher for overwintering.
  2. Hand weeding is also a possibility for larger weeds and smaller food plots.
  3. There are herbicides that can be used on your food plot.  Please ask a local farm supply or    hardware
    store for help.

Frost Seeding
In northern climates, frost seeding is an option for planting clover, alfalfa, and sometimes grass
seeds in food plots, fields, or other areas where the existing grasses, etc. are fairly short.  Frost
seeding is not recommended in sandy soils.

Frost seeding is done in the early spring of the year, in the days when the ground is frozen in the
morning and muddy in the afternoon (wait until most of the snow is gone, usually March in
Wisconsin).  This freezing and thawing action actually buries the seed, allowing it to grow as the
temperature warms.  It may be worthwhile to give your existing food plot a boost by frost seeding
clover on it.  Germination rates are reduced using this method -- use more pounds/acre

No-till Seeding
No-till planting is being pushed as a way to plant a food plow with little work.  Of course, the only
true no-till planting is frost seeding.  Otherwise, in a perfect situation, with the right amount of
rainfall all season, and in very short grasses, it is possible to spread double or triple the normal
rate of seeds and have some growth.  Again, provided the rainfall is adequate to sprout the seeds
and keep them from drying out.  The better situation is always to break up the ground, this will
save you money and provide you with a satisfying food plot.

Long & Short Term
Short-term seeds are planted for one season only, these include rapes and turnips, rye, oats,
corn, winter wheat, etc.  Mid-term seeds include the less expensive Ladino and red clovers.  Long-
term seeds are generally planted for 3-5 years of growth and include the New Zealand clovers,
chicory, the more expensive Ladino clovers, and alfalfa.  Kura clover is our longest-term clover,
sometimes lasting 10 years or more.

This length depends on the fertility of the soil, grazing pressure, weather, fertilizer, weed control, ...
basically, the more stress it has, the shorter it's life span.

Protein Levels (approx.)
Ladino Clovers 15-28%
New Zealand Clovers  18-32%
Red Clover  12-23%
Alfalfa  12-22%
Rape  18-35%
Turnip  20-27%
Oats, Rye, Wheat  7-15%
Corn  8-12%
Soybean  15-25%
(Protein levels depend on plant maturity, planting and weather conditions, etc.)
Rotate your
bulb-producing plots
(Ballistic 1 year -
oats, wheat, corn,
soybeans, etc.
the next year)
MAXI-RACK, LLC    -    (608)583-2050
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Specializing in wildlife food plots since 1998