Successful Wildlife Food Plots

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Outdoor Alabama Weekly

Follow Guidelines for Successful Wildlife Food Plots


Early August means that kids and parents are frenetically preparing for the opening of the new school year, and we hunters are looking for every opportunity to remind us that the hunting seasons are not far away.

With attention focused on the future seasons and what will lead to successful outings, hunters could possibly be playing catch-up if their preparations didn’t start earlier this year, according to Chris Cook, Deer Project Study Leader with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division.

“What you should have done back in spring is get soil samples and correct any problems with soil pH,” Cook said. “If you haven’t already done that, any lime application is not going to have time to be effective this fall. But go ahead and soil test and apply the proper lime, if needed, but don’t expect to see the results by the time you plant your fall crops.”

Whether the soil has been amended to attain the proper pH or not, Cook says it’s time to tackle the undesirable plants that inevitably pop up in the wildlife openings. 

“The best thing you can do right now is start working on weed control to help make sure you will be able to prepare a really good seed bed to get the seed in contact with the soil,” he said. “This will allow the seeds to germinate and grow the best they can. 

“A lot of people, instead of bushhogging the fields, will spray the fields with glyphosate (Roundup and equivalents), which makes it a whole lot easier to disc it up. When you spray a field, you don’t have to deal with all that green vegetation after you mow it. And it will limit the weed and grass competition if you spray it before it forms seed heads.” 

For those who don’t have the proper equipment to spray or large enough equipment to easily prepare the seed bed, Cook suggests multiple mowings, depending on the rainfall that occurs in the next several weeks, to get ready to prepare the seedbed. Cook also suggests proper maintenance of equipment. 

“You also need to make sure you’ve got the equipment you need for planting and it’s all functional,” he said. “You’ve got people who don’t get back to the hunting camp after turkey season closes until it gets close to the start of deer season. Sometimes those hunting-lease tractors are not the best, and you need to make sure they are functional. Some people won’t have the proper equipment to plant those expensive seed blends, so they’re wasting their money.” 


food plot spray rig  

Knocking back weeds and undesirable plants with herbicide applications can help hunters prepare quality food plots for a variety of animals.

Photo by Chris Cook


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