Alfalfa, chicory clover mix plots
Food Plots
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Stressless 28-Mar-17
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Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Edit 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

Biggest change is removing Alfalfa from the legume mix and replacing with Birds Foot Trefoil.

Established September 2016 with annual cereal grains and clover Alfalfa mix. Put in Frost seed Alfalfa Clover chicory mix late February looking at what type of maintenance recommended. 100 acres Woods ponds 4 Acres in six plots. Thanks for any advice haven't seen any Alfalfa clover chicory food plots in the Forum so think I might have screwed up LOL.


I did soil tests, I highly recommend only getting them done at your local AG feed store and discuss results with the local agronomist for what you want to grow and why. I applied the max AGlime and fertilizers based on the tests then planted Chicory, Red and White Clover and Alfalfa.... This was before I knew how fickle and fragile Alfalfa is. It doesn't matter what you 'Want" to grow, you need to grow the best species based on what the soil tests and environment will support that meets your Management goals. If I had done that I would have planted Birdsfoot Trefoil in the plots instead of Alfalfa and saved some decent $$ - Birdsfoot Trefoil it is a much more forgiving legume. I planted a nursery crop of oats and cereal rye over the Chicory, Clover and Alfalfa. We're all in Ohio so planting was mid Sep, the pic below is late Oct.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

All the plots look like this, ph and fertilizer is right on.




Shoot a bunch of those turkeys

Keep it mowed (Before weeds head out, or at full bloom if clean). I mow half when required, then come back a week later to do the other half

Mow now lower than 6". Do not mow when dormant

Ensure base saturation K stays above 4% , best at 6% for clover forage

Spray any grass weeds with Cleth (Arrow) when very small

This mix has been the best /most consistant draw of any during SEP - DEC hunting season


I planted an alfalfa/clover/chickory mix last year. Mowing kept the weeds out but the chicory didn't like the mowing either. Also sprayed the plot with a generic for slay called "thunder" and sprayed clethodim. Although I do think spraying helped during the dry summer months when I didn't want to mow I think the mowing helped the most. The alfalfa and clover are both coming back strong! Good luck with your plot!


Thanks guys, Pat how is that plot in your picture?

By: Bowman

Not trying to step on your thread Stressless. I think that Pat's plot is Plot 9 in the 2017 seed review.

I will be planting an alfalfa chicory + mix, High and Dry from Grandpa Ray's this spring.

I have planted chicory with Durana clover in a couple plots. The chicory had come up and was hit pretty hard last year.

Nice observation on alfalfa, clover and chicory. Maybe we can get some opinions.


Hi Bob, I saw the plots and they looked familiar so I check who it was. This is your neighbor. There sure are a lot of turkeys in the area. I am going walleye fishing tomorrow and hope to have fresh fish for turkey season. I am planning on hunting the first week of season. I can bring some fish and single malt. Your plots look good. Cliff


Pat, a couple of thoughts for you to ponder. For a full season blend with alfalfa, ladino clover might perform much better than red clover in the summer months, especially if the weather is hot. Ladino clover does not lignify like red clover and alfalfa, this makes it much more palatable in the summer heat. Secondly, I would not underestimate the benefits of chicory in a food plot blend. One of the biggest benefits of chicory is its ability to bring minerals to the deer. I run a small grassfed beef farm and my pastures have chicory blended into them, it has reduced the mineral supplements I feed by a tremendous amount. I don't think we always recognize the total benefits of individual plants in a mix, nor do I believe that we reap the full benefits of most plants when they are planted in a single species plot.


Purchased alfalfa this year and plan on putting in a couple of acre plots based on Pat's success. Now if I could just get Pat to plant it for me....


So fellas what I was wondering 1) is there is a herbicide that will work on a Red/White clover, Alfalfa, and Chicory mix plot? 2) If not then a mowing schedule to keep the weeds at bay?

Twanger - Howdy partner! I plan to bring some of the wild boar I got this winter and it definitely goes well with single malt. If you get lucky fishing I'll wip up that Walleye Marsala again. I will be there the first week as well.


Dennis Razza's embedded Photo

Here is early stages of plot I planted 3 yrs ago. Like Pat, the clover took over. One mistake I made... I waited to long to mow and lost all my chicory. It seemed like it was to mature and never grew after I mowed it. Hoping the the roots will produce new chicory this year. Good luck!


Stressless, I have a lot of grass in my clover plots and need to spray them. Looking to do that in May. If your plots need to be sprayed let me know.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

OK, looks like a spot spray of Clethodim 26.4% Herbicide for the plots with Clover (red/white mix), chicory, and alfalfa to knock back grasses, as well as regular mowing. This is what it looks like late Apr. Will spray in mid-June after mowing. Thanks for the input and advice, new to the plot kabuki dance - just learning the steps.


My experience with cleth is the sooner, the better. It takes a while to work and mature grasses don't die easily. Yours looks like it needs to be sprayed pronto.

By: lewis

Is it better to plant the alfalfa in the spring or fall Lewis


Drycreek - the stems you see are the nursery crop of cereal rye and oats from last fall. I jsut established the plots in Sep '16 those oats and rye they will die off in the next few weeks and make some mulch for the somewhat poor soil in the plots.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Didn't use any spray just cut it twice and it still has chicory Alfalfa and Hearty clover.


Looks great!


So many people don't realize that many of the broadleaves in your new food plots are annuals. If you clip them, they might regrow but the 2nd time you clip them they pretty much are gone. How do you think organic farmers make a living without the use of chemicals?

A firm seed bed that allows your perennials to germinate fast, getting ahead of weed canopy is essential.

By: Bowman

Has to be vastly superior for promoting good soil health.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

This is the field Sep 10, 2016 at in initial planting, the neighbor organic farmer that disc'd it did it three times over the summer to kill all native grasses / veg - not a drop of herbicide on it to date.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Same field in June with the cover crop of cereal rye and oats up, we cut the grains after seeding (as you can see) to provide a straw mulch and to put the grains where the poults and other critters could get at them.


How short do you all cut the clover chicory plots? I cut mine about 3 weeks ago with my brush hog up about 8-10" but afterwards thought I should have cut shorter. I think I could mow again this weekend with all the rain we have gotten.

Thanks, Bill


Cut it 7 inches high roughly but it was the first cutting actor the cover crop went down so we felt it could take it and it's responded very favorably. Note that there is chicory and Alfalfa in it as well.

By: lewis

Best time to plant alfalfa spring or fall Lewis


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Lewis based on my limited experience Plant in early fall with a nursery crop of annual rye and oats, frost seed it in Feb - if you have woods near - blow the leaves before frost seeding for best seed/soil contact...

By: lewis

Thanks yes leaves can be a problem Lewis


Stressless, I can see that grain now that I look at it again. I'm gonna try that myself in about a month. I'm planting Granpa Ray's Mass Builder on a 3/4 acre plot and using wheat as a nurse crop. Hoping to get something in there that the deer can't outrun.


Rob in VT's embedded Photo

New clover/chicory plot planted mid June.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Good stuff, Rob-VT - glad it came in thru summer. The clover here in Ohio is fading some in the heat but the alfalfa and chicory is doing well. All are producing good root systems helping push N back into some poorish soils. Here the utilization, chicory is getting beat!

By: MK111

Stressless where about in Ohio are you? I'm SW Ohio. Your plot looks great.

Will mowing thistles before seeding get rid of them. I got thistles with some seed I planted. Never had them before.


I'm South of Millersberg, Coshocton county. Def mow before they go to seed, also make sure your soil samples are up to date and follow the agronomists advice for your plots. Also Ohio DNR has a Private Lands Biologist program where they will come out to your farm and review your management plans for the entire farm, ponds, woodlands, food plots... for free.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Things that go bump on your cell phone..... on the back plot, sweet dreams




Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Very happy with 6-7 of the 8 plots I put in last fall, got this pic almost to the day a year since I plowed the ground to establish the plots. The tire marks are the winter wheat overseed, 11-52-0 and 0-0-60 fertilizer I put on three hours earlier then this pic.


Looking good !


Epilogue: All 8 plots, 6 disk and plowed, 2 natural worked REALLY well. We took all 4 deer off the plots and saw/had GREAT hunts on them almost every sit. Making access trails this year to get-in /get-out better. My second P&Y - I'm hooked on the plots and the sound management. Thanks for the help/tips I'll be back over 2018 for maintenance questions on the plots.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

My #3 Hitlist buck, rough Gross ~ 148


Nice buck and great shot! Congrats on your plots!

By: MK111

Congrats on the bucks and food plot plantings.

By: t-roy

Very nice! Congrats on the success from all of your efforts!


AWESOME. Soil test now and keep PH above 6.3 and get your base saturation K above 4% (6 or 8% is even better) Alfalfa really pulls out the K, and evnthough you are not taking hay, heavy grazing removes most of the forage (and the deer droppings mostly elsewhere) Keep building the soil and the deer hunting and deer quality will improve in kind.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

OK, figured I'ld update this thread as I'm still learning and can get some pro-tips as well as maybe help some new guys.

To start I'll hit the wavetops.

- Sep '17 Fertilized as in the previous post Plus added a awnless winter wheat and cereal rye I mixed.

- Mar '18 Leaf Blew the main plots and DIDN'T blow one half of one to see if really makes any difference. Frost seeded some sketchy/thin areas.

So I'm a FIRM believer in blowing leaves off if frost seeding and actually for the health/growth of the plots. Here are a couple examples - my plots are all thin and get heavy leaf cover.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Pipeline plot after blowing...


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

All my plots growth -> winter wheat and rye was grazed chin high - and remained grazed that way until early May '18 when the growth overtook the pressure. This is from Mid Apr '18 just prior to OH turkey season.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

So the plots turned green early and the turkey loved it...


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

.. and loved it some more...


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

..but love was their weakness and downfall...


Lol, THAT IS AWESOME!!! Story???


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Harvested 2 mature toms off those plots, opening day and the 2nd day of the season. P&Y last fall 2 mature toms this spring. Thanks Bowsite and Youtube, and Twanger and all the rest. A small town county bumkin can read and listen and learn. Stay tuned for the 2018 season.

Best Rergards, Stressless


Congrats! What a feeling when you succeed with hard work.

By: lewis

Love the turkey pic with the flowers I always have flowers in my turkey pics you can't have a funeral without flowers.So are you frostseeding wheat and rye over your clover and alfalfa.That I have never done but I commend you on your plots been doing it a lot of years probably 45-50 and yours look great congrats.Lewis


Lewis, thank you. I do the winter wheat and cereal rye in mid Sep hopefully with a bit of rain. I frost seed clover, chicory and some alfalfa.

By: t-roy

You’re sure cashing in on all of your hard work, Robert! Congrats!


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Update, I went in with "what I wanted" not fully appricating how much effort and delicate Alfalfa is, so a bit more then a year into it I've already headed to integrated Birdfoot Trefoil into the plots to replace diminishing alfalfa. https://extension.psu.edu/birdsfoot-trefoil -> Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) is a forage legume that is more tolerant of these adverse production conditions. and when you're not there to love and protect alfalfa that can happen fast.

So, without starting a new thread (I'll see if I can change the title) I've moving the summer and later fall legume in the plots to Birdsfoot Trefoil (BFT) - my plots aren't pH perfect and don't have loamy soil, most are 60 y/o old weathered spoil banks from strip-mining. I need something that will take those conditions and produce.

Here's the plot mid summer, doing well and a decent mix although the BFT is still young and not robust, but it's there.

2 1/2 months.... smile...

By: APauls

Robert this thread was a pleasure to read and follow your success. Congrats!


APAULS, thx buddy, I found this site and get a bunch of good info. I hope to post some good reports starting this coming weekend.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Had a great season and let some nice ones walk, all the stands are now in relation to the plots, once again the only thing green in whole lot of brown woods. I overseeded winter wheat and oats in Sept and the light freezes haven't killed the clover.

SMILES! here's of the plots (in the background) update once I frost seed the Birdsfoot Trifoil.


Wait....Whaaaat? What is the BFT doing this time of year? Growing? Attracting deer?


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Guys - I've gotten some PM's on this tactic, leaf blowing your plots, I gotta believe it helps. A pic is worth a 1,000 words so here's 4K from mid-Jan in Ohio. Green is Good.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo



Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo



Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

For plots that aren't in a "woods" it's obviously not necessary but all of mine are circled by mature woods and the leaf matter chokes out a large % each year. For spring green up (see the turkeys in '18 above) I think it is deal maker.

Best, Stressless


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Once again I've had a spectacular season, I owe much of it to stuff I've learned here and with folks associated with bow ju ting ling beards and plot mtx.

So as in 2018 the mature Toms loved the food leaf free plots!


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Even after the carnage in 2018 here they come back...


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

6yrd shot on opening day at 0700... bullhead, bullpen blind.


Stressless's embedded Photo

8yrd shot on this old gobbler, got video of the first miss at a brace of longboards molesting my decoys and then, they come back and one dallied too long and got a bullhead to the neck.

The video is here: https://youtu.be/ZHU7OApGEVM

By: t-roy

Good job, Stressless! Congrats on both birds!

Any tips or tricks on blowing the leaf litter off of your plots? I’m assuming it works much better if the leaves are completely dry, but maybe not?

By: APauls

Nie work Robert, I'd kill for being able to work in a sweater on a snowfree field in mid January lol. That's got to be better for the deer than anything!


T-Roy -- I count on a windy day and "blow with the wind" and usually in Feb they aren't dry - I hope to do it in early Dec next year following a 3-4 dry spell wet and wetter well, it's a PITA but seems to be worth it - I have 4.5 acres in food plots and takes most of one day. I'll tell you that it working them a foot or two at time, you'll know exactly where you need to frost seed the bare spots.


Congrats! Really great to see your efforts paying off.


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

Year three on the plots - sprayed one last year - def saves $ just cutting the weeds - but I have two plots that are getting taken over so in '20 I'll prolly burn them down. Just did the last AgLime for prolly 6-8 years. all should be right about 6.7 ph...let it all winter and check again spring '20/ anything growing will be much more palatable then what was pushing up prior.


Hadn't updated this one for awhile. With turkey season just around the corner I thought I'd just drop these here...

Some of the turkey bowhunting highlights over the years on this plot and some others on the property.

Update on the plots next.


Congrats on some great plots you’ve created....and the memories of all the fun you and your family have had around them!!


By: t-roy

Some cool videos, Stressless! Love the camera name in the Turkey #1–2020, especially! Definitely better quality footage than the Zapruder film ;-)


Pipeline and Backpad coming in nice. Frost seeded my legume mix in March.



After some experimenting in the last two-three years I've found a crop combo that is as low maintenance as possible to produce the highest yield, stands up to the high browsing pressure in our local area, has multiple crops, has the same blend of legumes and cereal grains across all plots to spread the pressure and lasts thru the hunting season.

To kickoff the bare dirt/poor soil I split apply 2T of Lime and I use the pulverized AgLime that will flow thru a ATV multre spreader. Having a good friend/neighbor (Goyt) to loan a 2nd spreader makes quick work of it between two bikes helps!

This is applying 1500#/acre of gypsum to loosen the clay and leach some Magnesium I got too high by spreading pellitized dolomite lime for the first couple years. IMG-0071

All the plots are in perennial legumes: 15# total live seed/acre

40% Birdsfoot Trefoil

20% White Clover

20% Red Clover

20% Chicory

One application of IMOX in mid Apr

One Application of Clethodim mid summer (edited)

Overseed tillage radish 6#/acre ~1 Aug

One spot spray of broadleaves ~ 1 Aug or as needed

Overseed 150#/acre cereal rye ~ Labor Day weekend

They love it and it keeps growing unlike brassicas and buckwheat that I've tried. This is a summers growing season inside and out of the UT cage. All plots experienced about the same browsing pressure. 20220828-Spoil-UT

That's the growth tuff over on the left in the UT cage 2022-0828-Spoil

Greenbrier that half was sterile clay/shale after work last year. The light stuff is 2T/acre Aglime from the Moultre spreader. Screenshot-20210430-204948-Gallery


Dam Plot (this doesn't get any herbicide only overseeding and mowed) 20220601-205723

Edge Plot IMG-0121

Bottom Plot 20220915-Bottom

FrontPad Plot 20220903-Fron-Pad

Pine Plot (this doesn't get any herbicide only overseeding and mowed) 20220831-Pine

BackPad Plot 20220828-Back-Pad

By: APauls

That's pretty awesome! How does it do after the freeze and when snow starts?


APauls, They seem to love it and dig it out from under the snow. Only time they don't get after it is when it ice crusts over and they can't actually get to it.

This is Bottom Plot from this winter, '22, same legume mix overseeded with 150#/acre of cereal rye. Didn't put tillage radish in last fall so they're after just what's still green under the snow.


Which brings me to good story from last year on the plots and that fits at this point of the thread on plots - and who doesn't like a good story!

So, on Bottom Plot I snuck in on 27 Oct and picked up a card.


That was my #1 hitlister Dutton and so with the right wind forecast I got into the stand on Bottom mid afternoon the next day.


He came out and He hit the licking branch at 30 yds - but looked like he was just gonna keep heading up the plot - and it was a quartering to shot - which is a no-go for me. Bow in hand and hooked up, he continued up Bottom Plot, stopped and looked back at the licking branch= I drew back, he started back up the plot and passed the 20 yd mark I had ranged.


To "Baaaa" or not to "Baaaa" that is the question - kinda screaming in my mind as he got parallel with me. good form, good sight picture, 20 yrd pin right where it needed to be, watching him walk and he took that front foreleg out for another step - release. Saw the arrow hit true and thru and thru.

My first thought was That's a dead deer running. Second was that's the first deer I shot walking - arrow was buried in the ground on the far side of him at 18 yards.

I heard him run in the dry leaves for about 2 seconds - he ran outa sight and stopped, 5-6 seconds later - seemed like a week passed - I hear a step - then crash. Rain was about 30-45 mins out so I made the call to trail after only about 5-10 mins just in case -


I dint think there was any doubt... and there wasn't// ran about 40 yrds and stopped in a thicket... died right there.


Plots are bringing them in now that beans are dry in OH. hope to get a mature buck or two staking claim to the area with deep woods bedding away from the fuss.







Nice to see that your planning and hard work is paying off for you. Good luck this season.


Glad you brought this to the top. I am looking for simple/less expensive ways of food plotting. You have given me some great ideas. I do have some questions. If you answered above, I missed it. I am not questioning what you are doing, or why, just want to learn more about your system.

Doesn't the rye come back in the spring? Does your mowing take care of it, or how are you controlling it? Imox?

Rye, 150lbs/acre why this amount?

Doesn't Butyrac kill the chichory? Must not ( I answered myself :) ).

Birdsfoot Trefoil, why the highest percentage of the mix?

How tall do the radishes get?

Thanks! BC




Almost all my plots are on ~70 y/o spoil banks from strip mines and hot (pH) as hell. There's a 1/2" or so of organic material on them then rock, shale, clay and other sterile compositions.


Bare dirt recipe, first year only.

- Anytime prior to planting apply 2T/acre Aglime

- If dirt opened up more than 3 weeks before planting your fall crop rye and legumes

-- Spray 2 quarts/acre Gly with 1 pint 24d ester + AMS

-- If less than 3 weeks just spray Gly and AMS

- 150#/acre Rye o/a Labor day

- 15#/acre Legume mix Live Seed o/a Labor Day

- Do Not terminate the rye the first Spring let bolt and cut when dead in June.

- Soil Sample and apply the correct TNV (Total Neutralizing Value) of lime to get your plot to 6.8pH

- Add fertilizer, P and K as needed

- Spray IMOX 6.5oz/acre with crop oil directly after cutting rye

- Spot Spray boradleaves Jun and Aug

- Spray clethodim in July or Aug after a good moisture event so grasses are growing

New area I opened up 27 Aug, Lime, rye and legumes went in 3 Sep. Pic is 6 Sep.


^Treat as an established plot thereafter


Established Legume Plot recipe.

- 6-8#/acre LiveSeed Legume mix in Feb-Mar (Frost Seed)

- Spray IMOX 6.5oz/acre with crop oil once mid-April when weeds are 4-6" and growing aggressively.

- Spot Spray boradleaves Jun and Aug

- Spray clethodim in June + or - 3 or 4 days from mowing

- Cut plots to 6-7" as needed over summer

- 6#/acre tillage radish o/a 1 Aug

- 150#/acre rye on o/a labor day

- Mow plots directly after seeding rye

- Soil Sample every other year amend as suggested


^ Repeat annually


The yearly mix is what I've found to offer a blend of crops they desire and that withstands the browse pressure in my small plots while also improving the soil to make the crops work in a bit of harmony. The legumes are all inoculated so they make N, the rye and tillage radish consume N in a big way. Since I don't till, I use the tillage radish to open up/break up the surface soil and offer organic materials below the 1-2" zone. Note that my lands are NOT fertile black loamy soil.

Perennial Live Seed Mix:

15#/ acre bare dirt 6#/acre frost seed into existing plots.

Note that it's 40% Birdsfoor Trefoil and 40% clovers, 20% chicory. Each will have it's own % coating so you or your seed folks will have to do some math.


Your questions are good, my co-op neighbor sprays Butyrac but I don't as, yes sir, it will kill chicory. The Single application of IMOX in the spring stalls broad leaves and like Pat mentioned in one of his posts, I make a mix of Gly and 24D, and spot spray the broad leaves. Did that in Sep after I planted rye this year.

- Doesn't the rye come back in the spring? Does your mowing take care of it, or how are you controlling it? Imox?

Yes and Yes and yes -LoL Cereal Rye is an annual. On a new plot I let it bolt and die, then cut (brushhog) and spray Imox mid Juneish after the fawns can get up and away. The IMOX spray after cutting terminates any viable rye seed from the seed heads - as well as everything else IMOX kills.

Established plots I terminate the rye when I spray the plots with IMOX in mid-April - what I miss or doesn't get fully dead I mow in Mid-June

-Rye, 150lbs/acre why this amount?

I know I'm not getting good seed to soil contact when overseeding into a established legume plot so there will be a decent percentage that doesn't germinate and or is not viable for all sorts of reasons.

Conversely I need the rye to come in thick enough when the legumes start to falter and die off in late Oct - Early Nov to continue to draw deer to the plots - and to green up first thing throughout the winter when the temps are > 37F.

150# is an easy # to work with and I guesstamate when doing rye by the 56# bushel. I made a spreadsheet to help me figure the totals and by the plot.


-How big do the tillage radish get.

Adding the tillage radish helps add food to the late plot as well. This is from -inside- the utilization cage last years failed brassica planting - it just couldn't keep up with the browse pressure. So outside the UT cage it got smashed and didn't produce. The tillage radish are the long white ones. 20211104-131801

On a side note all this is done with an ATV - Pepe - Spreader/Sprayer/Pull behind brushhog. IMG-0005


Wow! Amazing attention to detail in all of this. Very interesting


These frisky boys started at 2027 up the hill and pushed and shoved their way down. Scuffled for 10m on camera.

Cliff and Chris are sitting cold front today, one across the gravel and one in Glenmont at his family farm. Having "those" conversations with the Mrs. on When and How long I'll be at the farm for this hunting season...

THIS ? is not helping my objective outlook ??



You mentioned that the deer don't use your plots when it is iced over. If you want some fantastic hunting during that time drive your atv or tractor around your plots to bust the crust up. Deer will thank you by piling into those spots eating right along where you drove.


Great thread! Thanks for taking the time to post all those pics and info. I have some acreage I've taken out of CRP, I may try this blend. May go back into some flowering forbs for the bees also...not sure yet.


Krieger - If your areas are big enough, make strips around the plots 10-20' of the your "Pollinator Blend" with the legumes and then overseeded rye in the middle. I don't have that opportunity but it's def a bonus.

Drought, it's one thing we don't any control over. In our county, since Jun, we're over 40% less than average rainfall. By keeping growing things in the dirt and not exposing the soil my plots are all diminished by the drought but not barren. Even with the high browsing pressure.



How wide are your plots (the ones in the woods, not the pad)?

What would you think is the minimum width for such a plot as yours in the woods?

Are you plots oriented in a certain compass direction to maximize sunlight?

Given that the GFR didn't produce outside the utilization cage, do you still recommend planting it at 6# per acre? If it is not able to grow, what benefits is it providing?

I have a heavily wooded area that has some logging roads on it, but not sure if I need to widen them or just plant them as is with a clover mixture and then add the GFR and rye. I have several larger plots on the property, but wanted to use the logging roads in order to direct/funnel the deer toward the larger plots.

By: goyt

Termin8r, I would be very reluctant to plant logging roads unless you are not using them to access stands and have a good way to hunt them. There are probably a few places on them you can have a small kill plot but I like to have access where hopefully there is no reason for a deer to be there that time of day. I have a number of plots a few hundred yards from crop fields with access on logging roads . The idea is that the deer will use the plots in the evening before going to the crop field and in the morning coming from the crop field. The plots are just wide spots on the roads and I do use the roads to get to the plots but my access areas are free of food if I can help it.



I wouldn't access the stand sites by way of the logging roads. Access would be from the property borders, then perpendicular to the logging roads.

I was more interested in planting them in order to direct the deer toward the larger (1 acre) plantings which are 20 yards by 250 yards rectangular.

This was just a thought in order to provide some more food in an area that is heavily wooded, versus taking in equipment or manpower to clear a 0.25 to 0.4 acre plot along the border.

By: goyt


Thanks for the clarification. I think that anytime you can add food without hurting access it is a good thing. If you have an ATV mounted sprayer it is a simple thing to use roundup on the roads and then seed them with a clover blend, Some of the clovers are very shade tolerant. If it holds deer and causes movement you will gain from it. Very low cost.



Can you provide some details on your equipment (ATV, spreader, mower/brushhog, sprayer)? I'm looking to upgrade some of my equipment.


TM8r -

The farm equipment I have is all based on no-till. The results are above. Get the right configuration for all your tow implements - I had a Pin and Ball connection on different implements and then bought the Ball+Pin Hitch for both the ATV and UTV to mount on both tow vehicles so you don't have to switch things to use any of the items below.

Environmental - most of my plots I can reach with 10' wide clearance - i.e., tractor, but some are only 6' wide paths to get tothe plots. So I use ATV/UTV to keep 1.5 miles of trails open and get up a couple 40° slopes

*ATV - (Pepe) Yamaha Grizzly 450 2005

I bought it used in 2010 for my brother who had developed a heart condition. Used it for general farm chores and game retrieval until I stated doing food plots in 2016.

After a couple years of plotting and using the machines I decided to add a UTV as the ATV was getting long in the tooth, and dragging the "implements" seemed to be just over the edge of the limit I felt was reasonable for the littler ATV. So instead of a newer bit bigger ATV which could do it without issue, I went with a new UTV.

*UTV - (Red) Kawasaki mule pro mx LE

This is a smaller UTV and packs more than needed for just "plotting". I could do the entire farm with either Pepe or Red but Red pulls the harrow and brushhog with more power margin / not work as hard. I could do the entire farm and 8 plots with either.

*Sprayer/Boom - FIMCO 25 Gallon ATV Sprayer 4.5 GPM 7 Nozzle

You want as much water volume as possible so the 4.5GPM is the way to go IMHO. Sh@t happens so get your expendable spares when you buy the sprayer/boom


*Harrow - 6 ft. x 8 ft. Loyal Drag Harrow

I really like this tool, you can configure it in separate 6'x 4' sections, rough and smooth, light and smooth, rough and rough etc or just use a single 6'x4' section. Very easy to configure.


* Brushhog - Swisher 11.5 HP Rough Cut Tow Behind 44"

Get the 2"ball hitch for it, spare belt (haven't changed my belt in 4 years) grind/sharpen the blades


* Spreader(s) - Moultrie ATV Spreader – Manual Feed Gate - and earthway hand spreader

This is the product I've used and used and abused - still keeps ticking. I use the Moultrie from Rye to fertilizer to pulverized AgLime.



* Culitapacker - Packer MAXX 4'

My soils are so poor that the rock and shale really don't allow this implement to really shine but it does help. I'm currently eyeballing the Packer Maxx Crimper attachment - but for hte $ I have to KNOW I'll use it in the plotting line-up.

That's it. No disc, no plow, no tractor - Not that there's anything wrong with that, just I'll spend my $ on other things I actually need.



Wow! What a great response! Very thorough.

What would you suggest would be the minimum width I should plan for when planting woods plots? I will be planting current logging roads, but will not be walking on them to hunt them. These logging roads parallel my borders, so I will be accessing them perpendicular to the logging road.

I've heard pulverized lime wouldn't work through spreaders and was told to use pelletized lime. Does that Moultrie spreader have an agitator?


Plot Width - It depends mostly on orientation. I saw you had a 60'(20yrds) x 250 ydrs. If the 60' is E<->W Then you're screwed. If N<->S then your golden. Regardless, if you have trees they will try and close the canopy across the 60' as they grow. I've lost a .4 plot called Pipline that is N<->S but the branchs closing in 30'-70' above the plot are shading it out.

AgLime - Look closely at the bag - this is a specific composite grind that will flow thru a drop or gravity spreader.


AgLime -So I thought, wrongly, after reading a bunch of posts that I'ld have to do Pellitized Lime (Powered lime that's glued together) which isn't really bad but generally you have to reapply every year or two which equals- expensive, labor intensive, time consuming - everything wrapped up neatly in what I don't want on my farm.

So I found this little GEM at the local Ag co-op which is truly AG Lime, but will flow via a simple spreader - it doesn't cake and pack like traditional hard to spread Aglime.


With a counterweight on the front of Pepe I load 3 AgLime bags or 150# in the spreader at a time.

Harrowing in the 2 ton / acre lime. 20210501-093327


Took a tour of the farm late last week to capture the current status. I'm done with 'new' projects for the foreseeable future. Plots, ponds, trails, roads etc are all in maintenance mode as of June of 2023. That's when the new dirt I opened on plots in Aug '22 will be finally be dialed into the same agricultural specs as the current plots. Need to add another 2T/acre of lime, the gypsum I reserved, take soil samples during turkey season and then fertilize that new dirt but then I'm - Done.

The process to dial it in and experiments to see what crops combos are all documented above. This is by far the longest in the season I've had good producing plots. Lots of thought, sweat and effort put into it.

Pine Plot is one that has had soil amended but no herbicides, just cutting 3-4 times a year and frost seeding legumes. I've noticed the legumes are coming stronger and more plentiful each year. These pics are from Dec 9th, post gun season and you can plainly see the edge of "Field" where I cut and let it go native. The grasses in it seem very pitiable to the deer due to the pH and other particulars being dialed in. It doesn't look like much until you look around and everything else is brown. 20221209-130213-001


The plots, too many to do individually, have all come into 90%+ efficiency for production. Weeds, browse resistance, multiple species, etc... here're a couple.

BackPad and Edge two years ago just rye with no legumes... Screenshot-2022-12-12-122141

Full legumes and overseeded rye - increasing dry tonnage a huge step. Screenshot-2022-12-12-122343



Greenbrier Screenshot-2022-12-12-123722


Only three mature does taken from the 100 acres this season. With the plots in order and meeting the demand signal for browse thru the major hunting dates and finalizing the 1.2 acres of expanded plots for 2023 we should be good to go for years to come.  


Ive got to fire up my leafblower at the farm in SC come January. leaves are a non-stop issue.

By: APauls

Robert I absolutely love that you keep coming back to this thread and posting updates! I hope you do it for years to come as I just love seeing your progress. Feel like I've learned a ton for some habitat improvements I want to make in the future. Thanks again.


Robert, thank you for posting and your continuous updates!

I’ve adopted many of your practices here in MN with good success....including the spring leaf blowing practice!

Congrats on your successes and thanks again for all your help!



Spent a good week hard at it, many trials and some errors caused seemingly every task and chore to drag on and take longer than expected.

The weekend before the week in OH the Mrs and I drove up to my boys place and found us working hard trimming and grinding about 3 tons of limbs and two trees Fri and Sat.

Some tasks have priority due to the time of year, those got in front and done:

5 of 6 mineral links in and going went kinda heavy year 2 for adding dry molasses to the standard mix.

All new turned dirt from Sep last year got gypsum finally, 2450# on 4 plots. Snagged the soil samples and went with WTI - sent Fri and got them back already.



With the price of fertilizer not sure I'll be amending in April as planned.

Had 2 duck boxes, poles, predator shield so got those two up.


Going to harrow the leaves and of course girdled tree fall into the center ?? time suck..


Got it all cleaned up ..


Trying to see if I can draw turkey to this plot, had good pics last year

Got a couple other strutting plots cleaned off as well.


Hope to have three spots for the blind this year.

All the plots are looking very good with the mild winter the rye and legumes are both putting forage up whenever the soil gets a hint warmer. Utilization cages making it easy to see.


Had many issues with the cold coupled with thick simazine for on switchgrass, lost many hours fighting that but neighbor Cliff and I got it all down for premeergent weeds. Biggest issue was the in line filter on the 25gal Fimco sprayer. It never seems worth it until It works, 2y/o switchgrass is standing shoulder high.


Didn't get to the stands I wanted to get up but don't need them in until early Sep, plenty of time. Marked some trees while scouting with Chris so all I need to do is put them up at this point.

Bottom line is early March and the herd looks healthy.


And the plots are frost seeded and rolling for the '23 season.



Lots of great work done! Congrats man, looking good!

By: t-roy

Looks like you still got a pile of stuff accomplished, Stressless! We’re still waiting for for it to stop snowing here. We finally get rid of it, then another storm drops a few more inches. I bought a 6’ pull behind estate rake, and am looking forward to see if it will do a good enough job of raking up the oak leaves on a couple of my small clover kill plots. Been wanting to get them frost seeded, but want to rake the leaves first.


t-roy, the rake is exactly what you needed to get the leaves off. Thats what i used to clean mine up as well. Beats the leaf blower


Stressless's MOBILE embedded Photo

KHNC -0-

Ahhh just looked at the 6’ pull behind estate rake - it's a poor mans harrow. I use a harrow on the plot, it loosens the leaves but doesn't remove them. so how do remove the leaves after the 6’ pull behind estate rake is done loosening them?

I've tried just loosening the leaves and frost seeding but "removing" the leaves on heavy leaf matter really makes a difference. If you use the rake it must operate like a thatch/hay rake and make windrows 6"-1' deep that will have to be moved, or kill that line of in the plot?

By: t-roy

My hope hope is that is what the rake does, stressless. If I can get the vast majority of the leaves raked up into a few windrows close to the edges of the plot, then I can remove them by whatever means necessary, including possibly a leaf blower. My biggest concern is, the tines possibly won’t pick up the matted down leaves as well as I’m hoping……We shall see!


YA man- either KHNC or T-Roy please let me know how the mini hayrake works for wet/matted leaves? If it can pile them in a windrow at the edge of a field and then just Backpack Blower them into the woods that's a huge time save/time suck/work avoidance that would sure help.


Hey, I am actually talking about a 6 foot Landscape Rake, not a hay rake like pictured. Sorry, I didnt realize thats what t-roy was referring too. The LR will easily remove leaves and debris. It will also pull up some of your plants and dirt as well, but not too bad. You can adjust the height to ease up the down pressure a little if need be. It doesnt hurt my clover plots at all.


KHNC's embedded Photo

By: APauls

For most guys would it be that stupid to rake a fire break of leaves and then just burn them off if there are a lot? Would that add some of the nutrients back?

Man I wish we had no snow. We haven't even had above freezing temps, so melt hasn't even started yet. Seems like the winter is starting later but ending later past couple years.


As stated a couple times in the thread I loosen the leaves with a harrow, the landscape rake might be similar but maybe not as thorough.


Once the leaves are 'unstuck' from the plot ground the question is how to move them to the edge the easiest. That's the mini hayrake I think - but wanted to get some 1st hand "how it works".


The landscape doesnt just "loosen" them , it actually rakes leaves and sticks off the plot completely. But, you make be asking something different that im missing. Its just what i have found to work on my plots for leaf coverage. The harrow works ok , but it usually requires a leaf blower afterwards for me. Very time consuming.

By: t-roy

Well, I used the estate (miniature hay rake) on a small kill plot just above the house, this evening. It worked pretty well where there wasn’t a thick matt of leaves, and did a decent job of wind rowing the leaves. In the areas where the leaves were thick, it didn’t work worth a hoot. It just didn’t have enough oomph to keep rolling, and it would plug up and stop rolling. Another big problem was sticks. If there was a stick or branch of any size, it would get lodged between two of the rolling wheels, and they would stop and the rig would plug up right away. It DID seem to dislodge the matted down leaves pretty well, but only in the areas where the leaf litter wasn’t very thick. It hasn’t dried out here yet, and the leaves on this plot were a little bit damp. I think things would have probably worked somewhat better if the leaves were dry. I ended up raking part of the plot by hand, and blowing part of it off with a leaf blower. Hope to finish it tomorrow and get it frost seeded as well.

I think a smaller ag type hay rake would work better, plus I WILL be buying a “backpack style” leaf blower tomorrow! ;-)

By: t-roy

t-roy's embedded Photo

Here’s the “before” pic. Got dark on me. I’ll try and get another pic or two tomorrow.


Keep us posted T Roy.....Ive thought about the your rake concept just never took action on it. Ive always stuck with the jet pack leaf blower (and a 20 MPH North wind:))

Stress less, What an incredible thread! Thanks for documenting and sharing as Ive learned a lot!



Much appreciated T-Roy and Thx Mark - There's always sticks and limbs in mine due to the proximity of trees and that's kind of what I thought reading comments on the mini-hayrake. T-Roy - question: Does yous hayrake make a mindrow in the middle or move all leaves to one side? Not sure if they're configurable to do either or built for only leaf pile outcome ??


I've actually been using a lawn mower with a blower/leaf catcher bag on the back.....granted, it fills up rather quickly, but I don't have windrows when done, and the mower seems to dry the leaves in wet areas just enough for the mower to be able to blow them into the bagger. By completely removing the leaves from the area, I don't ever get any "blow back" if we get a decent ENE wind from the typically downwind direction (our primary wind is from the SW) which then blows the windrow leaves back into the very area that I just cleared them from. Small branches and sticks aren't an issue for the mower either....it just chops them up, versus clogging or plugging....but it does seem to fill up the bag faster because the leaves can't compact as well. In the Fall seasons where I have tagged out early, I try to mow/bag the leaves BEFORE the snowpack. The leaves are easier to pick up and nowhere near as wet as they will be in the Spring.

By: t-roy

Robert….the rake is a side discharge model, wind rowing everything off to the right. You can’t reconfigure it.

Jake….I thought about using a mower and bagger as well, but my wife’s 4wd John Deere mower doesn’t have a bagger attachment. We’re about due to upgrade it, and will most likely get a bagger attachment for it, as well as a snow blower, too. She’s been complaining about her back after she gets done shoveling snow. It would be a nice Christmas present for her ;-) I’m wondering if a guy attached a de-thatcher to the front of the mower, if it would loosen the matted down leaves even better?

By: t-roy

t-roy's embedded Photo

Here’s a pic of the rake.


T-Roy - thx for that info... The sticks in the plots might be the deal breaker for me, with all the trees I'd have to rake remove them ... and there's alot before doing the hayrake.

As for the plots I moved the leaves off and/or harrowed and frost seeded they are doing great.






Very happy with how well the plots are doing relative to the pressure they received Sep-Mar. Last year was rhe first year I had the same blend in every plot and it worked great. The plots broke even about mid-Apr in spring green-up, in that their growth outpaced the lessening browse pressure.

Had a good turkey season, collected my globber off one of my plots - that makes me smile.



The teenage boys giving ol'Tom a hard time and he's having non of it.

Back to the plots- 2inch, note that it was mostly bare dirt in early Sep '22.


Edge, again mostly bare dirt early Sep '22.


Spoil, established plot that was browsed to "chin high" about mid Dec but the rye kept producing in the those warm periods.






I had planted Chestnut trees, they're one of those diluted Chinese Chestnut's with American Chestnut... after getting them behind browse guards they really responded and had good growth. The freeze nipped them fairly hard thou... other tree species that had bedded out didn't show anywhere near this level of burn.


I got the second application of lime down on the plot areas zi opened last Sep. Letting it cook over summer and test again this Sep to know where I'm at... put 1700# on the plots and 1150# in Crescent pond.



The 160 buck Cliff shot last fall walked thru FrontPad and 150 Dutton the year prior walked almost the exact same place. Hung a stand, licking branch and dropped trees to funnel them where I might have an opportunity before they cross the road and "Killer" Goyt gets a crack at them LoL ;)



This June marks 10 years since I took over management of the farm. I've got to pull some pics before and after but the change is so stark that it's not easily recognizable from a couple snaps. I'll figure some way to convey the Before and After but no food on the property to 10 plots, poor hunting methods to managed access etc... this thread chronicles trials and errors and a couple successes I've had while I've been blessed to be a steward of the land. I appreciate the site and effort it takes to keep this capability up and working as a viable means to share.

The farm got ~ 3" of rain mid June, I got here and terminated the rye by cutting with a brushhog 5 days later. Many weeds that were just about to go to seed or viable seed from grasses to thistles also got lopped off. That saved broadcasting those weed seeds if I would have done it even a week later. At this point I have two "sets" of plots, Those tthat are just coming into perennial stage from bare dirt last Sep and those that in the perennial stage. Making observations this week of the plots that got IMOX'd in April and those that didn't I will most likely go to an every other year IMOX'ng the plots. This is due to the setback IMOX causes on the legumes and the heavy browse pressure all the plots get - that double whammy in the spring Apr/May early June growing season has some of my established plots struggling a bit - the drought we had Mid-May to Mid - June also played a part but removing the IMOX on half the plots going forward is the next experiment. I hope to see some of the residual IMOX and as Albert points out, "Rye is inherently allelopathic which helps to suppress weeds for the next year from germinating." as well as mowing once or twice a summer might be enough to suppress the weeds.

After sharpening the brushhog blades and basically running it thru the farm pit-stop I got going on the mowing.


2" plot is in the finale stage of beginning to soil build lol. In that it's been amended with AgLime and Gypsum to help the pH and loosen the soil, no synthetic fertilizer has been applied to date, I'll check via soil samples this fall mostly to dial in any pH gap to the desired 6.8 pH. The rye and some grasses seed heads were all in still the dough stage the thick vegetation helped keep much of the mid-June rain. The thatch from the rye and 2-3" of legumes, Red and White perennial clovers, Birdsfoot trefoil and Chicory didn't clump and bunch too much - I had been worried that it would and smother the legumes. Planning to take some after shots and see how that part, Is the Thatch too thick? question gets answered. This was 130#/acre rye sowed 8 Sep, initial planting of legumes at 15#/acre same date, frost seeded 6#/acre legumes 10 Mar.


Edge plot in the same shape.


Spoil Plot is in perennial stage so it got IMOX'd last spring '22 and this spring '23, it's a 1/4 acre in woods, it gets browsed heavy and you can see the IMOX terminated the rye so there's very little thatch to lay down while mowing. This is one I'll try to build better soil with no IMOX in '24 and heavy rye this Sep.


The 3 y/o swtichgrass is really jumping right now, it's on track with being 6'-7' in Sep. BackPad is another plot that got IMOX'd twice in two years and will let the Rye go until June in '24.


I was having fun mowing the plots and wanted to revamp a old plot I let go for three years, lots of 8'- 12' suckers and briers on Grassy Knoll, I could tell the belt was getting worn so I figured I'd use it on that plot until it went bad and change it. It almost got through it... but not quite. Put the new belt on and got it done proper.



One thing I found interesting, in every utilization cage there was blooming Red Clover, outside the cage nadda, not one bloom, which leads me to believe that the deer are selectively browsing the red clover. Chicory and Birdfoot Trefoil were close seconds to the selective browse pressure but nearly as pronounced.




Plots are doing well but getting beat with utilization... making great food but bearly keeping in front of the browsing pressure. The new plots/expanded areas with first year perennials turning out great with the pH dialed in and rye cut for thatch.



Inside the utilization cage it's 12"-14" of lush legumes, outside the cage, 4+ acres and 10 plots, all in the same legume blend it's browsed down to 3"-5".


Soils dark and moist in all the plots, there's some shale outcrops that only lichens would love so not really counting those few spots.

The tow behind brushhog nicks the ground once in awhile making soil obs really obvious lol.

This is on top a spoil bank so really happy with the results from keeping it covered in perennial and annual forage.


3 y/o Switchgrass is 5'-6' tall and growing.


The switch got a little too thick/high so trimmed it back into the shooting lane for gun season in Halfway blind. Pics are from the same cam/tree.



Broadleaves are making inroads on 2 or 3 plots, trimmed the plots to clip the them and other annual weeds, we'll see in a couple weeks, might spot spray them or just hit the worst plots with Butyrac then reseed chicory.

The overall outcome desired is to capture some mature bucks that will make this area their daylight home range. ?


By: APauls

Cool stuff! Think I bought a newer version of the exact same mower about a month ago. Is your idea with the switch around the one plot that deer have to enter the plot to see in it? Or is there a lot more switch outside the picture frame?


APs - Couple things with the switchgrass, there's another plot on the other side of the switchgrass across the gully, on the other side of the plot is a dike in the middle of two strip mine ponds with bedding directly behind the two ponds. We dropped all the trees into the gully, it's impassable except on either end.

Took three years to getrdone.





On the other side of the blind is a third plot the layout looks like a Y with the blind hidden in the woods at the juncture.

Access to the blind is thru open woods 30' down and to the right side of this and the Gully and switchgrass is to the left- the Blind is at the far end and this is one Leg of the Y plot(s) design. The open woods down to to the right doesn't 'hold' deer, no food, no cover.



The layout makes it so a buck sight or scent checking the three plots HAS to walk through or cross the Y conjunction.

Who doesn't like hunting a food plot? LoL

Well. That's a good mix Jeff ;)


I've been working on getting switchgrass established as a visual barrier to the public road down the way from this plot, one of the weeds that can out compete switchgrass is foxtail. The 12' bands of switchgrass here on FrontPad plot got heavily infested with foxtail which was still in the dough stage of seed development on 21 Aug.

Quinclorac 1.5L must be used with Methylated Seed Oil (MSO) to target foxtail and other noxious grasses/weeds. The application rates are somewhat strict or you'll harm/kill the switchgrass you are trying to recover. The switch must have 3 to 4 leaves off the main stem usually 2 y/o switchgrass or the quinclorac/MSO will kill your young switch.

I sprayed on 21 Aug. Effects pics below are on 30 Aug.

Application rate was 64oz of Quinclorac 1.5L/acre+ 32 oz of MSO/acre and 20Gal water/acre (for the Fimco 7 nozzle sprayer that's 40psi@3mph)


I knew I'd overspray a foot or two of the legumes but wanted to terminate the foxtail starts that were in that edge. As you can see below the quinclorac smoked the legumes and is terminating the foxtail. The switch is still dark green, where I didn;t overlap the spary. Where I did about 20'x2' I might have burnt the swtich... we'll see. The foxtail, other weeds, and everything else that got hit or overlapped spray areas are browning up.

Hit this plot and two other areas where the switchgrass has a larger footprint next to bedding/travel areas for about a 1/2 acre total.




Got back to TOO about 1300 Wed and it was threatening rain and actually got some sprinkles on the way to the farm from CMH. With that wet 'kick in the pants' I got 12 bushels of rye overseeded, 150#/acre, and then mowed all the plots over the seed- finishing up just at dark. Long day with a 0300 wake up in FL. That's a wrap on the food for the farm critters this year.

17 Mar, frost seeded legume blend 8#/acre 23 Aug Overseeded crimson clover and oats into the legumes 50#/acre 13 Sep Overseeded cereal rye into the oats crimson clover and legumes 150#/acre

The plots and dry tonnes I have growing is either going to draw good deer or not. If the kids come up to harvest some meat in gun season I may put some corn out but that'll depend on what we see on camera and the neighbors. Cliff and I are planning to go w/o "Bought and Bagged Bait" this year. We'll see. The Amish on the West are baiting, the the outfitter to the North is baiting so planning on primarily rut hunting. Nothing exciting showing up on cams so far to get me back for those glorious pre-rut 20-31 Oct days.










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