Starting a new plot


Well-Known Member
I've planted over 100 trees and one access road but this will be my first attempt to start a few food plots. I'm planting logging roads and other freshly cleared areas that have never been tilled, at least not in a very long time. The total acreage I'm planting will be between 1 and 2.5 acres depending on how much work I can have done with the dozer. Making repairs to a main access road is my number one priority with the dozer. Planting date is looking like Labor Day weekend or close to it.

Property location, zone 6B western NC mountains (See Kaleo Hills-property tour for more information).

Soil test results; PH 5.6. I've only had one test done so far but I think the others will be very similar. The entire property was mature forest but has been logged beginning in 2015, the last tree fell in June this year. The test was conducted by Whitetail Institute. They made recommendations for a few of their products, one of which was a cereal grain, clover, brassica mix that I believe is similar enough to my plan to provide a good guide for lime and fertilizer recommendations. I'm applying lime by hand (solo seed spreader) so I doubt I'll get the recommended 2500 pounds/acre down but I will make an effort to get as close to that as possible.

All seed will be broadcast without tilling. I'll have an option to drive over it with a UTV or possibly purchase a drag harrow.

1)Start a low maintenance plot that will encourage deer to seek the safety of my property core.
2)Improve soil health and OM.

Rough plan for the species I'd like to plant:
1)Mix of cereal grain, WR, WW, and oats (75lbs/acre?)
2)Dixie reseeding crimson clover (5lbs/acre?)
3)Medium red clover (5lbs/acre?)
4)Ladino or Durana white clover (5lbs/acre?)
5)6 point Chicory (3lbs/acre?)
6)Daikon radish (1-3lbs/acre?)

1)Recommendations for planting rate of above species.
2)Am I waisting money with any of the above species and such a low starting PH?
3)Should I add something else to this mixture?

A few important points:
1)The neighboring properties do not have food plots other than one "green field" I think is planted in rye grass. At least a few neighbors use corn feeders.
2)I don't have regular access to the property. If very specifically timed mowing, fertilization, or termination is required with some of the above species then recommend something else. Low maintenance is important. Some or all species may fully mature and go to seed before I can mow, terminate, etc.

If a simple mix of WR and Crimson clover is a better option now is the time to let me know!

This year, I'd add more lime and get it worked into the top 4" of soil.

I'd plant a cereal grain, crimson clover, medium red and radish. The other items would grow, I'm sure, but I would focus on getting a perennial clover going in the fall of 2019. Your ph will be up and some organic matter will have improved, a little. Work on grass and weed control in 2019. Take another soil test in the spring of next year.

Is your soil compacted from logging? If so, maybe get some sub soiling done, while the dozer is there? If he can do it.

You're like a lot of us, with a lot of shade.
Maybe the Standard Alabama Deer Combo might be a good choice for you. You can substitute Cereal Rye for the Wheat, if you like

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Agree with Farmer. I'd save the higher dollar stuff for now like durana a WC. I personally find a plot does better if given a few years of a LC rotation to get the soils up to speed with what the plants do and the amendments you put down. Another option would be to get coop bring in lime and spread or get it dumped and dozer spread it for you. I can buy a truck load delivered and spread lime much cheaper then pellot lime. But your access might be limited.
And even tho I plant them, Daikon is expensive and my deer pop eat them faster than they can form good root tubors. Might go cheaper PTT and DER in your mix. Good luck.
Thanks for the wisdom and advice! I greatly appreciate the suggestions.

I guess I could potentially get bulk lime delivered and spread by the dozer.

Some of the areas are compacted, the roads in particular.

What’s sub soiling?

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I definitely have slope. It's not too steep on the areas I'm putting plots in but some of my interior logging roads are in great locations to provide additional food for the deer; some of those roads are steep. I'm not going in with unrealistic expectations but I think it's worth broadcasting WR and Crimson clover to get something started. I should be able to drive over those linear plots easily to ensure better contact.
I put in an order today for:

Winter wheat
Winter Rye
Crimson Clover
Med Red Clover
Daikon Radish

I was considering adding Triticale to the mix in a few areas but it's almost twice the cost of the other cereal grains. It's not crazy expensive but I just haven't heard that it's any better than the other grains. Some of my harder to reach areas will likely get Winter Rye, Crimson Clover and little to no lime while I focus and some of the higher priority areas. At the end of the day it will come down to how much time I have.
Is this cereal grain, clover, brassica mix close enough to a Lick Creek mix to use the recommended 400lbs/acre of 6-28-28?
Everybody's soil and pocketbook is a little different. Your soil test would give you a suggested amount of what you need and that's where you should start. Except for lime, I've never put that much of anything down in a food plot, but it wouldn't hurt! I might choose a fertilizer with a higher first number (N = Nitrogen), since all but the clover will like it.

If I had to make a choice between lime and fertilizer, lime would always win hands down. Without a proper soil ph, your plants cannot use a lot of the fertilizer you put down. It just gets tied up in the soil. Just a waste. Phosphorous is a big component of antlers (and bones and fawn health), so, if your soil ph is 5.5 (yes, yours is 5.6), 52% of the phosphorous in the fertilizer you apply, isn't available to the plants, you plant.

The last chart shows plants with their preferred ph. Liming the soil now, you would see a change in ph starting in February of next year. That's the bad part. The good part, is that the ph will continue to change (go up) for another 2-3 years and you may not have to add any more for a while, but only a soil test, will tell you for sure.

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Is this cereal grain, clover, brassica mix close enough to a Lick Creek mix to use the recommended 400lbs/acre of 6-28-28?
Looks like good mix of seeds. I'd go with 19-19-19 start. And add the Urea. On new soils you want to load the N somewhat for early growth. Not sure your soil test. And I agree, ph makes a huge diff. even if you can only do a couple areas. And with rotations, it only gets better. I put lime on my 5.5 when I first bought in mid July. It was at 6-7 the following spring and with proper rotations has remained at 7 for 9 years and this is first year I will need to lime again. But since monsoons won't stop, I can't access some of the muddy plots. But I not complaining, last year went Aug-Oct with no rain, and thus basically no fall crops. Good luck.
I did a soil test and have recommendations for amendments. Not for my exact mix but for a commercial cereal grain, clover, brassica mix. I’ll definitely prioritize the lime.

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Plot will be finished today and seed/lime sewn ahead of the hurricane. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. The main plot is roughly .6 acre and has an acre of roads leading to it planted in cereal grains and clover.

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