Soil Test Results are in...
YUK. The Soil test came back with less than favorable results. Here is the copy of the soil test for you to see. These results have determined that the old-growth farmland, and years of decaying leaves, have left the soil acidic and in need of lots of amendments. But this is ok, we can always amend the soil. But our original intent to grow white clover will have to be in conjunction with another species.
We contacted Steve and Wilson Scott of the Whitetail Institute of North America. They are the developers of Imperial Whitetail Clover. We discussed our soil sample with them and they made the recommendation to lime according to the instructions and try the Clover with a companion planting of an annual variety for the first year. Cutting prior to seeding out of the annual variety will prevent it reseeding and by then the lime should have sufficiently raised the PH and the clover planted this year should begin to flourish.
So our first lesson in planting food plots is complete. We now know what the soil composition is, what needs to be done to plant our legume crop, and how long it will take. For those of you interested in the most complete information regarding soil science on the internet, please visit the Cornell University Extension Center Website where you will find detailed scientific charts and other information on PH, Nutrients and More.
Now, What to choose and how much?
We originally had a few crops in mind prior to receiving our results. We listed them in order of preference and will explain how our soil results affected our choice:
Picture Name PH Range Still a possibility? Remarks Ladino Clover Neutral Yes
Because of the acidic PH of the soil, a large amount of lime is needed to prepare the soil for Ladino Clover. The lime may affect the PH by October however there needs to be a companion planting for us to grow a lush food plot this year. We can plant this in preparation for next fall and it should be ready to go.
Alfalfa Neutral to Sweet No
Alfalfa needs a PH around 6-7 in order to grow well. There is simply no way we can raise the PH that high to grow this in '98. We have decided to scrap any plantings of alfalfa for this year.
Cowpeas Sour to Neutral Yes
Cowpeas or Field Peas are looking more attractive. They are tolerant of acid soils and we can amend the soil enough to accommodate these quickly. The problem with cowpeas is that they will be over harvested by deer who prefer cowpeas to nearly all else. We do not have the necessary acreage available to grow these so that over harvesting does not occur, but perhaps as a companion planting to something else.
Annual Ryegrass Sour to Sweet Yes
Annual Ryegrass is easy to grow, and will adapt well in our soil. The problem with ryegrass is that it can take over the entire plot. Ryegrass is moderately preferred by deer but it could choke out the clover and other species. It should be planted then mowed before it turns to seed or you could be in trouble.
We decided to do a companion planting with Imperial Whitetail Clover as the constant for 3 acres, then do a companion planting of Cowpeas for half and Annual Ryegrass for the other half. We will be seeding at 1/2 the recommended rate for Cowpeas and 1/4 for the Annual Ryegrass with 100% rate for Clover.
Our next installment is where all you guys will really get excited as we bring out the heavy equipment and start preparing the soil. Look for it here in Two weeks.