Fertilize now, plant next month ?

Jeff H

Well-Known Member
So my plots look more like a desert than a food plot. I did not do any Spring planting this year. There is a very small amount of clover left and some sparse grass. We've not had any rain for 5 weeks.
We got rain yesterday , today and will again tomorrow. At this point I don't have enough grass to have a successful attempt at throw-n-mow. I have thought to fertilize the existing grass, wait a month, then proceed with my throw-n-mow process.
Is this a bad idea?
fyi, I have no tractor and will brush hog with a rented walk behind. Approx 3 acres total.
Is there any other stuff you can rent? A very light roto tilling and rye/clover mix should work, but I think you need to break the crust slightly. Even a drag made of fence or logs will break the surface if you have an atv or pick up truck to pull it with.
You won't get much clover growth until next spring, though...that's just the way clover is. Its the rye (or wheat, too) that will become a nurse crop for the clover.
Rye will germinate on a brick, but if it lays on wide open soil, you will lose a lot of it to birds.
And rye germinates quickly so wait until rain is imminent before spreading seed. No sense having it just lay bare for days or weeks.
Have you done a soil test? I'm wondering if all your bare areas are due to lack of rain or is it that the soil need amended?
I have a drag harrow and might be able to borrow a 4 wheeler to pull it with. My truck is too big and the plots too small for it to work. The clover was for next year anyway, so that's not an issue. Wanted to do a typical Fall mix of WW WR, PTT, AWP. No soil test yet. Really wondering if I should try to grow some biomass to throw-n-mow with.
My other option is to do nothing and let it go fallow. Money is tight so no renting tractors this year. I'll be doing good to rent a walk behind brush hog.
I should mention I've got a LOT of Sericea Lespedeza seed in the ground and really would like to minimize the ground disturbance. That's a big reason I do throw-n- mow.
I would not fertilize until you are feeding the plants you want. I would suggest broadcasting your seed and bring in some straw.....just like you would seeding a lawn. I would skip the AWP - that is ice cream for the deer and will not provide much if you have decent deer numbers. Radish, tunrips and your typical fall cereal grains would be my choices. These are also fairly inexpensive. Drive around the plot with an ATV, lawn mower or whatever to push the seed into the ground and the shred some dank straw if you can find it. Only fertilize once you have the plants you want growing at least germinated. No point to feed the weeds!
I should mention I've got a LOT of Sericea Lespedeza seed in the ground and really would like to minimize the ground disturbance. That's a big reason I do throw-n- mow.
I hear ya on not wanting to disturb the soil. I've really cut back on doing that, too.
J-bird has a good point with the straw. It'll take some work and a lot of bales to cover 3 acres, though. Straw is safer to spread than bales of hay because hay could tend to have more weed seed in it.
Getting your hands on a 4 wheeler, lawn tractor or anything you can drive over the plots that can press seed to soil will help.
Wait until the soil is slightly damp (not soggy wet) and softened before driving over the seed.
Getting some biomass would be great, but time is getting short. By the time you develop enough to make thatch, will it be getting late to plant your mix? The upcoming weather will have a big bearing on that. In my zone, we usually plant our fall plots in about 2 weeks,3 at the most. I can't imagine growing enough biomass in 3 weeks that would make sufficient thatch.
I like j-bird's approach. Spread the shortest season brassica you can find, along with clover and rye, spread as much straw as you can handle (concentrating on the larger bare spots) and run it all over with wheels of some sort. Leaving soil lay bare for the winter would not be my choice, if it can be helped.
I’m in the same area as you are. I’m in western Crawford county and I’ve been using the phrase scorched earth. I’m putting lime down this weekend. I may spread and lightly disc in my fertilizer next week so my plots are basically prepped and just wait for rain in the forecast. I ordered my cereal grains and peas today. I do have an atv disc and atv cultipacker. I’m really debating discing in my fertilizer and then when there’s a legitimate chance of rain I’ll throw my seed down and cultipack. I haven’t decided yet and am still hoping we get some moisture this week as is forecasted. Then maybe we’ll get a timely rain around Labor Day and I can not be concerned about it.