No matter what size property you manage, if you want to consistently grow trophy-class bucks on your property, you must provide quality, year-round nutrition to your deer herd. In most cases, foodplots (when properly planted and managed) can be the most cost-effective means of providing this year-round nutrition. Even though deer hunting season is over, don’t forget about your deer during the spring and summer months. This is when your deer herd needs nutrition the most! This is the time of year when bucks are growing their antlers and does are feeding their fawns.
With today’s ever-changing climates and rainfall often in short supply, it is very important for land managers to be prepared for the worst. Certain steps can be taken to effectively maximize the production of your food plots even during drought conditions or periods of limited rainfall during the hot, dry summer months. Limited rainfall and droughts (especially during the summer months) can be very detrimental to your food plots if you are not prepared. Proper soil preparation, planting methods, site and seed selection are the keys to providing year-round forage production during these dry periods.
Plot preparation is one of the first steps in conserving and maximizing your rainfall and soil moisture. For example, it is of the utmost importance to have your soils deep-tilled well in advance of your warm-season plantings. In most cases, you can effectively deep-till your plots with a chisel plow,moldboard plow and/or subsoiler. As a deer farmer, depending on your soil types, you may need one ormore of these implements to effectively break up your soils and maximize your soil moisture. Warm-season food plots should be deep-tilled in the early fall to allow the plots to rest and bank moisture for the upcoming spring/summer plantings. If rain comes during the fall/winter, then it will be capturedin the soil. You want your plots to act as “sponges” this time of year in order to collect rainfall for theupcoming spring/summer months. It is also very important not to allow the encroachment of unwanted plants (grass, weeds, etc) in the food plots during this resting/rainfall collection period because these invaders will steal the moisture and nutrients you are trying to save.