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Home > Advice > Planting Food Plots

To grow food plots successfully four elements must be working together.
1. Seed to soil contact 2. Adequate soil moisture
3. Adequate soil temperature 4. Adequate soil nutrients

The techniques to achieve these four areas are almost endless, but successful planting and maintenance are crucial throughout the planting and establishing stages.
  1. Seed to soil contact
    When planting a new food plot, the soil should be prepared to a depth of three to four inches. This can be achieved by rototilling to a depth of three to four inches to remove any large pieces of dirt and to reduce any clodding. If the soil is already prepared, a thorough raking to level and remove any rocks will be sufficient. The seed can be spread with the same equipment used to spread fertilizer, or by hand for small areas. Regardless of the method the seed should be divided into two lots. Spread the second lot at right angles to the first. To ensure good seed to soil contact, the areas should be between 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Once this has been completed the area should be rolled or firmed with a culta-packer.
  2. Adequate soil moisture
    "Mother Nature" will hopefully aid you in keeping the new seed moist if you're seeding in the spring or fall. Improper watering is probably the biggest factor that causes new plots to fail. For seeds to properly germinate evenly, the top layer of the soil must not be allowed to dry out. Look for planting times when rain is expected.
  3. Adequate soil temperature
    Most cool season grasses and legumes germinate when the soil temperatures reach about 50 degrees. When seeding in the spring any seeding done prior to soil temperatures of 50 degrees will lay dormant until temperatures reach this point. Generally for fall seeding, seed no later than September 30 to ensure fall germination. Or not before November 15 for a dormant seeding, the dormant seeding will lay idle until soil temperatures are consistent with germination needs. Dormant seeding is a good way of ensuring that your seeds will be germinating at the first available time frame that following spring.
  4. Adequate soil nutrients
    The seed itself has enough "food" or nutrients to germinate and send out a root. However, the reason the seed has sent out a root is in search of food, so it is important to maintain an adequate supply of nutrients at all times. It is nearly always helpful to use a starter fertilizer. A starter fertilizer is high phosphorus which stimulates aggressive root growth and establishment. Once this has been completed begin a regular scheduled fertility program consistent with your cultural practices. Please remember your hard work and investment will be appreciated time and time again as your family and friends enjoy the benefits of healthy and beautiful food plots and natural habitat.

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