I have an area that is completely covered in ferns right now that would make a decent food plot location. If I were to throw some rye down and mow the ferns, should it turn out decently? This would take place in Late August
Your best bet would be to apply lime at 1 ton/acre, followed by buckwheat @ 50lbs/acre, and do that immediately. When about 25% of the buckwheat is flowering, broadcast winter rye into that, along with another 1 ton/acre of lime, in mid to late August. The green manure from the buckwheat, along with some adjustment to the pH, will help the rye to do better than it would otherwise.
If Im not mistaken, I believe ferns thrive on acidic soil?? That being said, alot of lime would probably discourage them. I have a spot of ferns I hit with gly a few years back and they died fast and never returned to that spot. Dont know if they are just really sensitive plants or it was a fluke.
If ferns are growing there, you can BET the soil is very acidic. While it may not be a "problem" getting rye to grow there, it would certainly be a mistake to not even attempt to apply lime to the soil. There is a dramatic difference between getting something to grow and gradually improving the soil to provide remarkably better results. Anything worth doing, is worth doing well?
I was told by a forester that some species of fern have allelopathic properties helping them out compete surrounding vegetation. Not sure which species of fern you have but might not hurt to spray them first.