An objective journey into the creation, maintenance and productivity of a whitetail food/kill plot
|October 7th 2008||May 1st 2009|
Before we go into our 2009 results, let's evaluate our Long Term History of the Bowsite.com Food Plot
|1998||Good||New planting of Imperial Whitetail, did fairly well despite heavy grazing in summer and fall. No noticeable weed or grass intrusion.|
|1999||Excellent||Unbelievable second year results. The plot was as good as it could ever get. Deer really browsed it down in fall but held up well.|
|2000||Fair-Poor||Weed and grass growth took over plot. Imperial Clover all but gone.|
|2001||Poor||Had to plow under, installed Imperial whitetail again, but the weeds and grass took over quickly. Had to plow under in late summer and installed buck forage oats. Had marginal success with growth.|
|2002||No Plot||We decided to spend the entire spring/summer spraying roundup and killing existing vegetation. We planted peas in the fall but the deer over-browsed and killed it.|
|2003||Poor||We planted Imperial No-Plow. The Rape came up in abundance, but the deer never touched it during archery season. Our plot was a failure despite a successful growth of rape.|
|2004||Good||So far, plot is looking good. Heavy spring rains in the NE along with a new planting are showing positive results. Still some bare spots to overall progress is good.|
|2005||Good||Due to lack of utilization, we planted Tecomate Monster Mix in the Big Plot and Imperial Clover from Whitetail Institute on Small Plot|
|2006||Good||Big Plot (Monster Mix) came up great, moderate to low utilization, Imperial Plot highly utilized and healthy|
|2007||Fair||Big Plot (Monster Mix) still healthy and thick, still moderate to low utilization, Imperial Plot all but vanished, completely overtaken by weeds and grass|
|2008||Good||Big Plot (Monster Mix) remarkably healthy and thick - great action resulting in our largest kill on the property. Small food plot remained a disaster.|
*Your results may vary based on the size of your plot, annual rainfall, planting times, fertilizer choices, etc. This chart represents the results of the Bowsite.com Food Plot only as a reference to our experience. No Seed companies are Bowsite.com sponsors and all products were chosen and paid for by us.
Every spring we look forward to seeing our plot results and this spring didn't disappoint. After killing our largest buck ever on the plot last fall we have a lot of enthusiasm for 2009. This year, we cleared additional land and are doubling the size of our food plot!
May 1st 2009 Results
Big Plot - Early spring growth is fantastic. This makes the 5th season on the Monster Mix plot and still no need to till and replant. Excellent results on both clover and chicory.
|Big Plot - Wide View - we will fertilize and lime this plot again this spring.|
|Small Plot - Surprisingly, the annual ryegrass did not come back and there is a new carpet of the imperial whitetail clover we planted last year. It is not uniform, there are bare spots and we have a lot of invasive thistle plants mixed in with the clover. We will need to deal with this weed as it can be very destructive and take over the entire area.|
|Small Plot - I had originally decided to plow this plot under and replant but we decided to give it a shot, liming and fertilizing, then mowing to control the thistle.|
Installation of the New Plot
One of the problems with our plot has always been that it just is too small. At 1 acre and deep into the woods, it gets hammered. So this year we broke out the chainsaws and cleared another acre. with the help of a local bulldozer to pull stumps, we took out 18 trees, leaving one adult wild apple tree in the middle of the new 1 acre section. Now, it's time to prepare the soil and install the new plot.
|New Plot 3- We pushed our old Ford 2000 to the max breaking up the new ground with a double-bottom plow. A necessary step but one major PITA!|
|New Plot 3 - After plowing was complete (about 2 hours) we thoroughly disked the soil, pulverizing it into a soft loam ready for liming, fertilizing and seeding.|
For liming we used pelletized lime applied at 2000 lbs per acre, we also spread 5-10-10 fertilizer before planting a combination of Imperial Whitetail Clover and Monster Mix. We are giving this combination a shot since the deer seem to slightly prefer the Imperial Clover to the Tecomate product, however the Monster Mix grows wonderfully whereas the Imperial product has been difficult to get established here in Pennsylvania. Our hope is that we can achieve a good combination planting using both seeds.
|New Plot 3 - After spreading the lime and fertilizer we installed the seed on top of the firm soil bed by a hand broadcast spreader. In the absence of a cultipacker, we simply drove over the seed to press it into the soil, completing the installation step.|
|New Plot 3 - about 1 days' worth of effort and $350 in gas, fertilizer, lime, and seed was required to install Plot 3. Now we hope for rainfall to get the cycle started.|