Choosing The Right Plants For Your Plots
It would be hard to imagine a better food plot than a really good stand of Tecomate Lablab, but does that mean Lablab is always the best food plot choice? No, it does not! Different plants do different things. You have to “prescribe” the right thing for the job. Let’s see what goes into that.
First, when buying seed, consider value, not just price. Don’t be fooled by bag size. Bigger is not necessarily better. Some of the best wildlife plantings, like clovers and chicory, come in small bags and have very low planting rates. An 8-pound bag of Tecomate Monster Mix, which consists of clover and chicory, for instance, plants a full acre. It would take 130 pounds of oats to do plant that same acre! Think in terms of cost/acre not cost/bag or cost/pound. Some big, cheap bags of seed aren’t bargains at all when you consider what how much it takes to plant an acre and what you really get.
And, why not go for both attraction and nutrition, instead of only attraction? For about the same money, you can plant something that is not only good to deer and other game but also good for them, which will ultimately improve your game populations and hunting. Consider carefully what you are actually getting for your money. It’s very possible to have your cake and eat it too, but you have to shop around. Some excellent mixes are out there.
Of course, you’ve got to plant the right thing for the season. High-protein forages like chicory and legumes are required for the warm-season antler-growing/fawning time, but too many people still think high-energy crops like corn, milo and the like are good summer plots. Not so. Leave the high-carbohydrate plantings are for the cool season, when energy is the name of the game. By the way, high-protein plants like legumes and chicory can provide just as much energy as high-carbohydrate plants since deer can breakdown protein to energy. Historically, managers have felt that high-protein plantings have been too high for attraction, but that’s not so anymore.
Should you plant annuals or perennials? Annuals last one growing season; perennials last two or more years. So, are perennials better? Not necessarily. Perennials are slower to establish and often don’t produce much in Year One. Annuals, on the other hand, have to get it done quickly so they tend to have explosive growth and quick production. But, perennials do have the wonderful advantage of “keeping on keeping on,” and they come on strong after the first year. It’s your call. Generally, I like a mix of both annuals and perennials in a food plot program.
So, choose your food plot seed wisely, and you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck … literally!! Next time, we’re going to look at the keys to planting and growing quality food plots. I’m David Morris. I’ll see you then.