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Food Plot Help

Old 11-29-2013, 03:49 PM
  #1  
Spike
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Michigan
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Default Food Plot Help

We plan on clearing several small areas throughout our property next spring. We want to open up the canopy enough so that the plot will get sunlight. Then we will do soil tests and fertilize accordingly. We probably wont be able to get a tractor and plow back there, so it may just be with hand tools. We live in Michigan, so any advice on this or recomendations on what to plant?
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Old 12-01-2013, 05:03 PM
  #2  
Spike
 
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The pH in that are i'd assume will be very low. Most woods areas will need liming. Note liming takes 6-12 months before you will get benefits from it. Year one i'd be looking at low imput seeds that also tolerate low pH's

I always say the one thing that will grow if all else fails is dwarf essex rape. Rape is cheap and overlooked. Deer do like it. The brassicas and clovers will give you more quality but Rape tolerates very low pH's. The next thing i'd consider is berseem clover as an annual clover. It tolerates lower pH's and will grow very fast. It will fixate a high amount of nitrogen and will help keep weed growth down.

I had an area i seeded down this year that was woods for 40 years. A cat pushed trees back. The soil was super compacted and low pH. I decided to experiment and just use a light food plot disc to work the soil up. I broadcast the seed and dragged it in. The conditions were not ideal, the pH off and heavier equipment and better seeder option would have been more ideal. But with my job, i wanted to create a bad environment and experiment with various seeds.

I used rutabaga, winfred brassica, forage radish, berseem clover, and dwarf essex rape. I was happy with every option but rutabaga. Rutabaga requires more water and a longer season. I wanted to see how it would handle woods as it's mainly been used on better soil areas.

The berseem clover and radish mix really germed fast and grew rapidly as expected. The winfred brassica grew typical but did stunt out a bit more than on my better soils. The dwarf essex rape was as expected. It grows on air.....seriously low maintenance.
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:31 PM
  #3  
Boone & Crockett
 
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Just clearing with hand tools is going to be a slow go. An option, long term, would be to mark out the areas you want to plant and use a herbicide. Using a hatchet or machete you can chop into the bark of the tree and squirt a mixture of Arsenal and water into the chop, the trees will start dying in a couple of months, opening up the canopy, eventually dying. As the limbs fall you can just throw them off to the side. Best would be to get an excavator in there.
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:39 PM
  #4  
Spike
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Cutting down the trees won't be a problem, we cut our own wood for our wood stove. So we have the tools to take out the trees. We will take the bigger stuff for fire wood (unless it not suitable for firewood and leave the tops to create cover. We also plan on hinge cutting some trees to bring more browse down to where the deer can get it and create more cover. However how do we get the stumps out of the ground? Our tractors are out of commission right now (total tear down).
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:10 PM
  #5  
Fork Horn
 
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Not sure how big of an area you are going to do but if you find low pH back there, toss all your wood ashes back to help raise it up.. Much faster than lime but not as practical unless you have a lot of ashes.
If you need to raise the pH fast, some KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) will bring it up almost immediately.

The easiest way would just be to use round-up, then get a small rototiller back there and plant sweet corn... About a month after planting, throw down a light application of 12-12-12.. then again about a month after that.... As soon as you see the cobs forming, hit it heavy and hard with 46-0-0 (straight urea)...

That sweet corn will pull those deer in hard and it doesn't grow much taller than 4 feet or so.. The trick is to plant enough of it that they don't destroy it all during the growing season. They'll start eating the leaves even before its a foot tall.

Once you plant the corn, you can also plant rape seed around the corn to keep the weeds down and beans interlaced with the corn to add some more nitrogen into the ground.. (beans make their own nitrogen and the deer love them).
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:18 PM
  #6  
Spike
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The woods we hunt are surrounded by seed corn, field corn, and soy beans. Will sweet corn pull them in with the abundance of all these crops around? The farmers start harvesting around here in very late September and end in early November. We are looking for something that will draw in the deer from October-December, so we may have to plant a variety.

Last edited by TheDudeAbides; 12-06-2013 at 07:30 AM.
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Old 12-06-2013, 10:10 PM
  #7  
Fork Horn
 
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Originally Posted by TheDudeAbides View Post
The woods we hunt are surrounded by seed corn, field corn, and soy beans. Will sweet corn pull them in with the abundance of all these crops around? The farmers start harvesting around here in very late September and end in early November. We are looking for something that will draw in the deer from October-December, so we may have to plant a variety.
As I understand it, you can plant a 40ft x 40ft plot of sweet corn in the middle of a 100 acre corn field and the deer will head straight for it...
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