Questions for a Beginner - Good Clover Seed & Soil Test?

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by Winesburg Duroc, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    492
    Location:
    Fordville, ND
    Hardiness Zone:
    3
    Shop your lime source. It's important to know what the calcium/magnesium content of your soil is. In the event you're heavy on one, you don't want to compound the problem by putting the wrong lime on. Get this right, and plotting is a lot of fun for years to come.
     
  2. Winesburg Duroc

    Winesburg Duroc New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Holmes County, Ohio
    Hardiness Zone:
    6
    I thought I should give you all a quick update on the results of my frost seeding - it's pretty interesting. I ended up planting about 2 total acres in three plots. One of them was bottom ground where corn and sorghum had been planted a number of years ago. The pH in that field was already decent - a little north of 6. That plot is doing great. I'd say I've got better than 60% clover cover and much of that clover is already 12" high. I have limed that plot and fertilized.

    Another plot is a little higher up on the hill where cows had been pastured for years. The pH there was close to 6. I laid a good deal of pelletized lime there - part of the area I burnt off before planting and part I just mowed and raked. No surprise, the area that was burnt off is doing much better with clover. I'd say I have about 75% clover cover there, although the clover isn't as tall as it is in the bottom ground - but that may be due to the fact that I sowed it 2-3 weeks later.

    The final area I planted was also bottom ground, but it hadn't been planted with any crops in recent memory. I have to admit that I didn't do a great job raking this area and I only burnt off small areas (one area I was burning nearly got out of hand and only a Providential shift in the winds kept things from getting ugly). This plot has a good deal of clover shoots, but it also has heavy grass growth that I suspect will inhibit the clover. Right now, I'm planning to mow this plot to see if that gives the clover a fighting chance. If the clover loses out, I'll plant brassicas here in late fall.

    My take-away from this work is: 1) Early frost seeding is more effective - some folks told me to wait until late March to seed because they were concerned the clover would sprout during an early warm spell and then get killed off by a hard freeze. We didn't have a hard freeze in March, so the seed spread in February had a big advantage. 2) Seed bed prep is key - burning off the area before planting made a huge difference, although really intensive raking was pretty close. But, intensive raking is ...intensive. Not something I'd want to do on a plot larger than 1/4 acre and without the help of my teenage sons. 3) Basic grain elevator seed has done just as well as food plot seed...thus far. My best plot was planted with Ladino, Alsike, and red clover from the local grain elevator. While this plot has grown impressively, I'm not certain the local deer are grazing it yet.
     
    dogghr likes this.
  3. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    492
    Location:
    Fordville, ND
    Hardiness Zone:
    3
    Did you end up soil testing? If it looks good and isn't getting eaten, it either wasn't needed, or you're missing something.
     
  4. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,925
    Likes Received:
    1,395
    Location:
    Huntingdon Co. PA
    Hardiness Zone:
    6a
    Sometimes it takes deer a little bit to really key in on a new plot, set up a camera in field scan mode and see what you've got. I've also read bogus advice online on early frost seeding, the reason that it's called frost seeding is because, like you learned through experience, it's best done early when there's still freezing going on. Clover is very cold hardy and the roots don't freeze out easily. Anyway, what I wanted to tell you is that you could probably easily save that field that has a grass problem by spraying it with clethodim to kill the grass. Clethodim is cheap and readily available at places like tractor supply or rural king. And it's a good idea to stay on top of the grass control in your other plots before it gets too bad, grass and clover are always in competition with each other for nutrients and the one will always choke the other out on the long run. Clethodim works best on short grass in the spring, and it works slowly, so it can be 3 weeks before you see a difference.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  5. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    845
    Location:
    East Texas
    Ditto on what MM said about cleth. If the grass gets away from you, mow it, wait a couple days then spray with cleth. I've had better luck killing mature grasses after mowing. That stimulates growth and will help the grass take up the herbicide a little better.
     
  6. Winesburg Duroc

    Winesburg Duroc New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Holmes County, Ohio
    Hardiness Zone:
    6
    Thanks for the suggestion on Cleth. I picked up some Butyrac that I plan to spray on a few areas where broadleafs are a little out of hand. I'll get some Cleth, too.

    I didn't end up doing full soil tests - just pH. I'd have to have done 3 or 4 tests, which would have run nearly $100 total, and that just didn't seem to make sense compared to the cost of seed and fertilizer. I suspect deer are grazing on the good areas of clover, but things are growing so quickly that it's hard to find signs of grazing. I need to move my trail cams to keep a better eye on those areas.

    Part of the situation is that deer numbers in my area appear to be low. 20 years ago, when this property and the others around it were planted in corn, sorghum, clover, beans, etc., the deer numbers were quite good. But, 2 decades later, there is almost zero crop acreage within 3 or 4 miles, maybe more. The farms have died off and the land is mostly going back to timber. Coyotes and bobcats are showing up on all my trail cams. I'm hoping my food plots will encourage the local deer to hang around and provide improved nutrition - helping boost numbers. I know I'll have to do a lot more than a couple acres to make a real difference, but Rome wasn't built in a day :).
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. THE LLC,
  2. wbpc,
  3. kelfo,
  4. mmilanovich,
  5. adkhunter1590,
  6. Hall77,
  7. DIY,
  8. farmhunter
Total: 85 (members: 9, guests: 57, robots: 19)
(moderators are listed in blue)