Forget to Plant Food Plots for Wildlife
Auburn, May 18---Just
because winter is over, don't forget about planting food plots for
wildlife. Planting plots now will provide food for wildlife
throughout summer and fall and can provide cover for some species.
needs both forage high in protein and grains high in carbohydrates.
Warm-season forages eaten by deer, rabbits and groundhogs include
alyceclover, American jointvetch, buckwheat, cowpeas, essex rape and
forage-type turnips. Deer love soybeans, but soybeans don't do well
under browsing pressure, especially in small plots less than 2
Combination plots are
recommended over single-species plantings, says Jim Armstrong,
wildlife scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Combination plots lengthen the foraging period, and if diseases or
insects impact one crop, other crops will remain.
Brooding wild turkeys
and bobwhite quail benefit from warm-season forage plots by feeding
on insects throughout spring and summer, says Armstrong. Preferred
grains by bobwhite quail, doves, wild turkeys and deer include corn,
grain sorghum (milo) and millets (browntop, foxtail and white proso).
Grain from these crops provide energy from late summer through
Deer and turkeys can get
to food when the plant is erect but doves cannot. Bushhogging
several strips through the plots will make grain available to these
birds throughout fall and winter.
Make sure wildlife food
plots are not visible from roads. This reduces poaching and may help
keep wildlife away from traffic.
Before planting food
plots, have the soil tested and follow soil-test recommendations for
lime and fertilizer. Liming corrects soil acidity, improves
availability of nutrients and improves nitrogen fixation by legumes.
Nitrogen is necessary
for high-protein levels, says Armstrong, while phosphorus,
potassium, sulfur and other nutrients enable plants to use nitrogen
To allow nitrogen
fixation, inoculate legumes with species-specific inoculant prior to
planting. Properly inoculated seeds may produce more than 100 pounds
of nitrogen per acre.
Don't drill or cover
seeds too deeply. Drill or cover grains by disking 1 inch deep.
Cover small-seeded species no more than one-fourth inch. After
sowing these seeds, cultipack the seedbed again to ensure firm
SOURCE: Dr. Jim
Armstrong, Extension Wildlife Scientist, Alabama Cooperative
Extension System (334) 844-9233