Jul 10, 2015

The Magical Time To Plant Food Plots

By Steve Jordan

By July and August, the earlier plantings of corn, soybeans, chufa, sugar beets, etc. should be well on their way.  These crops need 60 to 100 days or so to mature, so they need to be planted in the spring.  If your earlier crops don’t look good by July or August, you should start over with a fall lush green plot.  Most of my food plots are planted in strips for good diversity, that way I can rework a strip easily rather than having to work up a large square or rectangle.

Some earlier planted food plots might be very weedy by July and August to the point that you may want to start over with a young healthy and tasty fall crop.

An earlier spring crop may be severely overgrazed by midsummer.  This is a good thing.  First of all, it shows the deer numbers are high in your area.  My second point is that you have the local deer comfortable feeding in the food plot.  So if you have to start over in a section or in all of it, the deer will still check it out daily.

Soybeans are always one of a deer’s favorite foods.  Young soybeans 4 inches tall or shorter are the most sought after.  I like to plant a new strip every 3 weeks right up to mid-August. On the last planting of soybeans, I will add a nice turnip mix with it because one major problem with soybeans is the first medium frost will kill the plant.  The earlier planted soybeans will have pods of soybean seeds that the deer like, but the later planted ones are dead and gone with no food value for the animals.


Because the soybean seeds are large compared to turnip seeds, you will need to cover the soybeans with soil.  To do this, I level my seed bed with a disk.  Then, I broadcast the soybeans with a pull behind spreader.  My rate of seeds is light so I don’t choke out the turnip mix.  Then I lightly disk the soybeans in the ground to 1 inch or so.  The next step is culti-packing.  Then I broadcast the little turnip seeds and compact again.

The young soybeans will be a delicacy until the first frost.  After that, the turnip mix that had a little competition with the soybeans will flourish. 

A good turnip mix planted in mid-July could get up to 20 inches high by the end of September.  The deer in my area will eat them right to the ground by the end of November.  Plantings into August can also be good with a timely rain or two.

Winter rye or winter wheat can be planted up into September.  However, earlier like mid-July is better because of the thick layer of green that will grow and become long lasting winter feeding.

Wheat and rye are like a grass seed.  I do like to work it into the soil to about an inch deep.  In moist conditions just broadcast it on the surface and it will grow.  This is especially effective if you have a soybean strip or patch that is browsed pretty badly.  If you did a good job of weed control you can just broadcast wheat, rye, or a good turnip mix into the soybean patch.  The next rain will germinate the seeds.  If not, the damp mornings with the heavy dew may get the seeds to germinate.

Try these ideas and you will find that July and August ARE magical months to plant food plots.