Newly Cleared Ground - What to Plant?


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I'm sure this topic has been covered, but a quick search didn't turn up much.

I am clearing some new ground to create a new food plot and would like to get something growing in the bare dirt this spring before I come back in with the LC Rye/Perennial clover mix this fall.

Should I plant buckwheat? Let it grow whatever is in the seed bank and spray/plant in the fall? Spread a red clover mix with some soil builders?

I will be getting soil samples this weekend and will apply lime as necessary immediately. I'm planning to apply fertilizer when I do the fall planting.

Thanks for any input!
I would plant spring oats, clover, and buckwheat. Others will chime in and offer additional plants or something a little different. The oats and buckwheat will germinate pretty quick offering ground cover and roots in the soil, while protecting the clover until it establishes. The deer and turkey will like the buckwheat seeds and oat heads along with the green growth.

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I would definitely get some clover in there for sure...I have quite a bit of bare ground myself right now from my bulldozing areas to clear trees to create diversity on my place but my plan is to let nature take its course and see what is in the native seed bank...
I would want to plant something roundup ready or at least clover where I could spray and or mow during the summer to start reducing the weed component of the plot
you are on the right track of starting out with nurse crop for the "off" season until fall planting. Lot of guys leave it bare and its like why not get some nutrients in the soil for fall planting, instead they spray it 3x during the off season to keep weeds under control. I don't think you can go wrong with buckwheat, as shades out any weeds and easy to establish, just don't let it go to seed or you fall food plot will be buckwheat as well! However, i'm all for some diversity as well, throw some clover in there my preference is ladino along with some oats in anything clover helps balance the C:N ratio in soil.
It also depends on your deer density and size of the plot. If I had a one acre plot and planted buckwheat - I wouldnt ever see a buckwheat plant after the first couple of weeks
I’m a buckwheat convert for new plots. I planted five of them last year and comparing them to first time plots on the same place I think they really helped the soil. One particular plot was an old logging deck that had been leveled and was mostly red sandy clay. After a sorry wheat plot the fall before, I planted buckwheat last spring. In the fall of 2019 I not only noticed a difference in the color of the soil, now brown instead of red, we got a pretty good crop of oats. I think it would have been better if we had more room, but it’s a lease and we can’t enlarge it.

In another plot that started off with behia grass:eek: I planted buckwheat last spring and didn’t have much behia come back. Anybody that knows behia knows what I’m talking about. After the buckwheat we had a decent crop of wheat considering the lime didn’t have a lot of time to work. I disced these plots the very minimum that I thought I could before the wheat was planted and had very little buckwheat in my wheat plots. These plots, and three older plots that have never done well on my home place were planted in buckwheat last spring. Those three produced the best fall wheat that I’ve ever had on my place.
Definitely plant something and yeah buckwheat is an excellent soil builder. It’s more of a summer crop so depending on your location you may want to seed oats now since they are done in about 60 days. Then broadcast buckwheat into the dying oats and throw and mow or just pull and chain harrow to flatten them over the buckwheat.
Swamp cat is right about deer browsing BW hard. I had a 1/2 plot last year of BW and never got above 3-4 inches high.
We planted BW in a logging road and it made it to flower. We came back the next week and it looked like we didn’t even plant anything.

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I get different stories from different folks about a deer’s appetite for buckwheat. I have to say mine was browsed somewhat but all of it flowered. They may change their tune this year though, but time will tell. I plant it for the weed suppression and the soil building properties.
The newest mix I am going to try has BW in it. I think it will do great with the rest of the mix.

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Thanks for all the input everyone. I’m going to finish clearing it tomorrow and I’ll get soil samples and measure. I’ll likely seed spring oats and a clover mix and see what comes up. I’m guessing it’s a little over an acre. It’s way back in the timber so I assume it’ll get hit pretty hard.

What’s the new mix you’re gonna try Doc?
You may consider add sunn hemp too once the temps rise. It grows quickly and in less than desirable soil. Then you could follow that up late summer with winter rye or wheat and clover
What’s the new mix you’re gonna try Doc?

I used smart mix to get ratios. It is gonna cost me $54/acre for the seed. I would really like to have sorghum instead of the Sudex Sudan, but it is being used by the ICP to climb on and my supplier only has this variety. I haven’t seen any info on seed heads for the SSG.


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I'd strongly advise some Buckwheat in your mix. The reason to plant Buckwheat in new fields is because Buckwheat takes up insoluble phosphorus and some other minor nutrients that are otherwise unavailable to most crops, then releasing these nutrients to later crops in a usable form as the Buckwheat residue breaks down.
I asked the same question of the Land and Legacy guys (Adam Keith, Matt Dye, and Chad Keith). They recommended actually planting RR soybeans the first year to allow me control any invasives that may come up. Then they said to drill a diverse fall blend into it. Basically it is the only time they recommend planting monoculture plots when it is newly cleared ground and it’s unknown what is going to be coming up from the seed bank. That’s the plan I’m going to do on my new 2 acre opening that I cleared late last summer. I got a sparse stand of WW established last fall but don’t have much feel for determining what is going to come up this spring.

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I thought about planting RR beans, but think they would get hammered where this plot is. I’ll see what the soil tests say and go from there. Might give them a shot this summer.

I need to measure to figure out how big it is, but would guess it’s gonna be 1.5 to 2 acres with another 1.5 to 2 acres about 30 yards down the creek on the opposite side.

Ultimately I’d like to get it in clover. I seeded oats and red clover in it this weekend. Time will tell what happens.
Good luck with your planting HB. I like what Paradise said about controlling the invasives that may come up but would expect the soybeans to just get gobbled up as quick as they germinate. For that reason I’m more convinced that leaving it unplanted and letting the weeds and invasives come up is appropriate. And of course a good spraying of roundup just before seeds grow out to clean it up good for fall planting.

And here with clover it is always chicory added at 3 lbs to the acre. More than three on the chicory if seeds are fresh has resulted in too much chicory. And of course no plowing is done after killing the weeds off.
On all my new plots I have always planted buckwheat as early in the spring as possible. Then after it flowered I mow it down and let it grow back on its own. No re-seeding necessary unless the first yield was sub par. Some years if the conditions are right and I get it in early enough, I can do that 3 times before planting a cereal grain mix for the fall.

This has worked like a charm for me in more than a few soil conditions.