weeds, friend or foe?
Food Plots
Messages posted to thread:
nutritionist 16-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 16-Sep-17
USMC0351 17-Sep-17
drycreek 17-Sep-17
Bowriter 18-Sep-17
Genesis 18-Sep-17
Habitat for Wildlife 18-Sep-17
JED 18-Sep-17
nutritionist 19-Sep-17
Jeff Durnell 20-Sep-17
stick n string 20-Sep-17
EmbryOklahoma 20-Sep-17


Weeds, Friend or foe? A weed is something growing where it is undesired to be. For example, if you are a crop farmer and you have a soybean field, having corn in that soybean field would be considered a weed. The key to successful farming and food plotting is not total elimination of weeds but the ability to control the negative effects of weeds.

When i conduct seminars I always bring up the neighbors 600 acres that were planted into warm season native grasses. They decided to buy seed from an organization that sells on price point. The end result is we are blessed with weed seeds being blown our way every year. Two year ago it took the state of wisconsin weed experts 2 days to figure out what the new weed was that we are now blessed with.

You want to disc, plow, harrow or work the ground the deepest the first year in your food plotting and then shallower there after. Why is this? Once you clean up weed seeds laying in the plow zone, you don't want to go deeper, bringing up weeds laying out of the zone. Some weeds may be laying dormant in the ground for many years.

What i recommend is people to work the ground in the spring and wait 2 or 3 weeks to get a flush of weeds. Spray and wait 1 week to plant. Plant a soil builder mix and then either kill off and plow down before planting your fall mix or clip short and then overseed your fall mixes into or drill without disturbing the soil.

Another practice is to not work the ground any time and practice no til. How can you do this? In the case of grass sod, you can seed your perennial clovers by frost seeding in february or march, allowing mother nature to incorporate the seed via freezing and thawing action. The clovers will start germinating early and you can then spray clethodim to kill off the grasses. The end result will be a pure clover stand without bringing up any weed seeds. You also could spring no til drill the plot after killing off the grasses with glyphosate.

For those who aren't planting a spring food plot cover crop, you can either no til your fall brassicas or kill off the weeds 1 week before planting and then overseed into the dead thatch. You do need to have loose soil and the addition of liquid or dry humics will help the cause. Humics will naturally loosen the soil, add organic matter and give other growth benefits.

Another thing to consider. What is a weed? Some weeds are very nutritious to deer. Some plant chufa for turkeys, yet it's yellow nutsedge, which is a hard to kill weed. Yep, turkeys love it but in the northern climates, it's hard to kill it. Another weed deer love is plantain. Plantain is high in protein and one of the highest mineral containing forages. Giant ragweed is also a staple of many deer's diets in the summer. We see it as the preferred forage for 2-3 weeks each year. We spray it to manage it but any escape giant ragweed we don't worry so much about. It is near impossible to have total weed free fields, but do they need to be? So many people worry about seeing a few grasses or broadleaves in their plots. In perennial plots the key thing is to not let them produce viable seed heads. This will reduce future weed regrowth. This is why clipping is essential. Many of these weeds are annual broadleaves and they will be managed from clipping.

Deer are selective browsers. They will eat what is the most nutritious and palatable at any given point in time. Grasses they will not eat typically and as long as they are not stunting other desired forage growth, they can be tolerated.

Think a bit like an organic farmer. Control weeds but don't worry about seeing weeds. Do the best you can by planting low weed count, high germination count seeds. Always have good seed to soil contact when working the ground, to get the food plot forages snapping out of the ground before a weed flush. Maintain soil ph and plant species that are best for your soil type and location. Sound agronomic practices is just as important as herbicides. The organic farmers don't use herbicides and we can reduce our reliance on them as well.


Nutritionist, some of the best advice I have ever read regarding food plots. Pretty simple logic at that.


My education continues! Appreciate it.


This is why we love your posts John. You get right to the point !


Here is a novel experiment. Plant a variety of food plots. between each one, leave a control plot-one allowed to support whatever comes back volunteer. Now. Using cameras or interns, see which one gets the most use by deer. I suspect you might be surprised how valuable and palletable a weed is to a deer.


Back when I use to plant food plots the perennials were always best when they were playing out and ratty with some weeds.Deer are browsers


Same experience for me Steve.


I agree to what you say, but in south Texas some weeds attract animals we dont want. Nutsedge is a huge feral hog attractant and they can virtually destroy 1 acre a night and leave nothing but up rooted ground. This past July the hogs rooted one of my plots so bad that I stuck a 70hp Massey Ferguson tractor in one of the wallers. I put out 6 acres of food plots every year and I know when nutsedge is ripe in my area and I typically loose 3 acres to the hogs. Johnson grass roots is another hog attractant, but I got rid of most that with Gly. Nutsedge is a real devil to get rid of and when you have a 3 acre field of it...good luck.


Bowwriter we already do that. In my main gro plot there is 30 blocks of forages and multiple cameras have been and will be placed around it. I also have posted live feeds showing what the deer are eating. I also recommend strips of plots for biodiversity as well as other benefits. My book coming out will discuss having things in at least 1/3's

One of the largest bucks in the wild I see his pictures almost every day whenever my client sends it to me. We know what he likes and when he likes it. So many people run trail cameras over food plots and when you teach them how to set up their plots properly, it's all like clockwork until mother nature throws a curveball.

In my case, i can pretty much predict what a deer will eat and when but i have been doing this so long that It's just because of repetition. But then when we test new seeds and also experiment with things to raise the BRIX then thats when things get fun.


I prefer to hunt around weeds. They aren't evil. They're just plants.


Some weeds can be bitter and pop up where they need not to. They should just stay in the weed threads more geared towards their likes and stay outta the ones they just wanna throw unasked for seeds into.... But thats just my opinion....;^)


Good read!

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