|To grow food plots successfully four
elements must be working together.
|1. Seed to soil contact
||2. Adequate soil moisture
|3. Adequate soil temperature
||4. Adequate soil nutrients
The techniques to achieve these four areas are almost endless,
but successful planting and maintenance are crucial throughout
the planting and establishing stages.
- Seed to soil contact
When planting a new food plot, the soil should be prepared
to a depth of three to four inches. This can be achieved
by rototilling to a depth of three to four inches to remove
any large pieces of dirt
and to reduce any clodding. If the soil is already prepared,
a thorough raking to level and remove any rocks will be
sufficient. The seed can be spread with the same equipment
used to spread fertilizer, or by hand for small areas.
Regardless of the method the seed should be divided into
two lots. Spread the second lot at right angles to the
first. To ensure good seed to soil contact, the areas
should be between 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Once this has been
completed the area should be rolled or firmed with a culta-packer.
- Adequate soil moisture
"Mother Nature" will hopefully aid you in keeping
the new seed
moist if you're seeding in the spring or fall. Improper
watering is probably the biggest factor that causes new
plots to fail. For seeds to properly germinate evenly,
the top layer of the soil must not be allowed to dry out.
Look for planting times when rain is expected.
- Adequate soil temperature
Most cool season grasses and legumes germinate when the
soil temperatures reach about 50 degrees. When seeding
spring any seeding done prior to soil temperatures of
50 degrees will lay dormant until temperatures reach this
point. Generally for fall seeding, seed no later than
September 30 to ensure fall germination. Or not before
November 15 for a dormant seeding, the dormant seeding
will lay idle until soil temperatures are consistent with
germination needs. Dormant seeding is a good way of ensuring
that your seeds will be germinating at the first available
time frame that following spring.
- Adequate soil nutrients
The seed itself has enough "food" or nutrients
to germinate and send out a root. However, the reason
the seed has sent out a root is in search of food, so
it is important to maintain an adequate
supply of nutrients at all times. It is nearly always
helpful to use a starter fertilizer. A starter fertilizer
is high phosphorus which stimulates aggressive root growth
and establishment. Once this has been completed begin
a regular scheduled fertility program consistent with
your cultural practices. Please remember your hard work
and investment will be appreciated time and time again
as your family and friends enjoy the benefits of healthy
and beautiful food plots and natural habitat.