Food Plots 101 | Spring and Summer Food Plots

Now is the time to plant your spring and summer food plots, but do you know why? Do you know what you should plant? What are your goals for this plot? Where, when, and how much food is available for the deer that utilize the plot? What is your food to cover ratio? ….Unfortunately, these are all questions that you need to answer, but may not want to spend the effort on when considering planting spring and summer food plots. Spring and summer food plots based on the nature of the plots and timing often require immense planning, maintenance, and the knowledge to make the plots work for your property, for your deer herd, and for your deer hunting.

First, we need to take a look at what your goals are with your food plot. This varies greatly from hunter to hunter, and even from property to property. Regardless follow the step by step process from planning to planting, and make sure you are stepping towards deer season with the right foot forward!

What is YOUR Goal for Food Plots Planted in the Spring or Summer?

If your goal is to feed deer throughout the spring and summer you might want to rethink your strategy. Sure we can give the healthy dosage of information that explains that bucks, and lactating does need a very nutrient and protein rich food source in the summer from growing antlers and raising fawns respectively, but who are you kidding? Your neighbor’s AG fields, the hundreds of acres of soybeans or alfalfa fields, and the nutritious early succession growth in the spring flourish provides often times is more than enough. Sure, there are situations that would render all of the previous statements false, but for the most part, it’s true. Your goals for summer and spring should not necessarily be to feed deer unless your population is significantly overflowing the carrying capacity (unhealthy deer, browse line, and other symptoms of a high deer population).

So, if the goals of your spring and summer food plots are not to feed deer during the summer, what would be the case for worrying about food plots this time of year. The reason can be answered by diving straight into the 3 most popular food plot species for this time of year. These are corn food plots, soybean food plots, and clover food plots.  Besides clover, which provides the one thing that the others do not, soybean and corn food plots have one thing in common…the late season.

While it may seem odd to many first-time food plotters, corn and soybean food plots planted in the late spring and early summer when soil temperatures and rain create the perfect conditions are actually planted for the late season. Both food plot species, if left standing unlike the hundreds of acres of corn and soybeans on the neighbor’s ag land, becomes a food source that can outcompete early season feed patterns in regards to hunting. The level of attraction of food sources like beans and corn cannot be rivaled on cold December and January days. This is what the mad rush is all about. Much like a farmer maximizing yield for harvest, hunters want to maximize yield to maximize the attraction and effectiveness of the late season.

If this is news to you then you are in for a treat, if it’s not, you will still learn how these top 3 spring and summer food plots work together, and where they can fit in your food plot program.

Top 3 Spring and Summer Planted Food Plots

This graph shows how the spring and summer food plot program is incorporated and how it works in terms of food plot attraction and food availability.

The sections below cover how the species fit into a food plot program.

Clover Food Plots

Clover, red or white, comes in many different species and qualities that can be selected to fit your situation. It is often regarded as the small food plot or poor man plot king as many species can tolerate shade and heavy browse. Clover is often easy to manage with herbicides and if planted with a perennial like ladino, can last many years.

Clover is the perfect addition or filler in your food plot program, and the perfect species for small food plots or poor man food plots. Again they can act as the small food plot king, filling in attraction to micro hunting areas like a staging plot just before a large soybean or corn food plot. In terms of deer food plots, clover is always regarded as a must have in a program because it fills in times of nutritional and food plot slack. These two times are in the spring before large scale ag is planted, and the early fall, when soybeans turn and the summer food source pattern of deer switches to their fall home range. The videos below cover the how to and why on small clover food plots.

Small Food Plots 101

Soybean Food Plots

Soybean food plots hold their own and have a significant role in food plot programs, however, every ¼ or ½ or even 1-acre plot is often not that place. Again, in the Midwest, soybeans and corn dominate the landscape. So most of the time, on about 80% of the properties hunters inquire about, they do not need beans, at least not in the traditional summer feeding sense.

Soybean food plots are used for two purposes. Summer feeding and late season feeding. In both time frames, June-September and November-February/March, beans can offer a protein source and food source rivaled by few. With beans already dominating the landscape in the summer, the real use for soybeans becomes strictly related to the late season, unless of course, your property is in great need of a food source in the summer. Unfortunately, this means that you need to be in the realm of a farmer, thinking about maximizing yield! Amending the soil properly and ensuring you maximize protein levels during the summer and bean pod production in the late season means not only doing soil samples but putting a lit a bit of extra help into your soybean food plot. This might mean, depending on your property and the surrounding food source, investing in a fence and enhanced soil amending products. The video below covers once such scenario that can create the ultimate late season plot.

Soybean Food Plots 101

Corn Food Plots

Corn food plots do not offer the same benefits in the summer as soybeans, but they do provide another crucial element in a deer management program. Corn is often regarded as the top late season food source, other than beans of course. However, it may be wise to figure into your decision the positives and negatives of both soybean food plots and corn food plots, and which might be worth investing your land, time, and money into. For this consideration check out the video below.

Corn Food Plots VS. Soybean Food Plots

Maximizing Food Plot Potential

Investing time, land, and money into a food plot program that works for and with your hunting strategy is often the goal. Where most hunters miss the mark so to speak is in terms of maximizing the food plots themselves. While the food plot species, food plot design, and food plot strategies are paid attention to, the food plot health and yield are often forgotten. For some, food plot program and soil health play an even bigger role than the strategy itself but often produce more results as they maximize a huge element in deer hunting success…FOOD.

While some may invest the time into doing the appropriate soil test, they often fail in amending the soil to which the food plot receives the benefits. Nowhere is this more encountered than in conventional liming and pH adjustment. The thought towards liming for spring and summer food plots is too late into the planting season that the benefits will not be available until after the benefit in hunting strategy has passed. This often ends in hunter frustration or worse, a failed food plot and hunting season.

This is where DeerGro fits in. PlotStart and PlotBoost in combination allow your food plots to achieve their full potential and maximum yields.

How PlotStart Works

PlotStart™ is a calcium-based spray for use on food plots, crops, vegetables, and trees. Developed by an American company that is a 30-year veteran of the agricultural industry, PlotStart™ provides instantly soluble and available calcium PLUS a unique mix of complex carbohydrates, amino acids, and micronutrients NOT found in traditional fertilizers allow your plantings to explode from seed to plant, and begin to grow at full potential. MADE IN THE U.S.A., PlotStart™ targets the soil providing the most beneficial growing environment possible.

  • Adjusting pH levels starting the moment it is applied; whereas, lime can take months to begin to work. Shown to work up to 3X faster than ag lime.
  • Provide more essential nutrients for antler and body growth of deer.
  • Increase plant germination (sprouting) by exploding the growing environment with more nutrient availability and soil microbes.
  • Can be applied with any type of sprayer: hand-pump, backpack, ATV/UTV, or Tractor
  • Can be applied to tilled or untilled ground
  • Can be applied to aging perennial plots to boost pH and improve nutrient usage.
  • Drastically improve fertilizer uptake and use by your food plots. Use less fertilizer annually because your plants can absorb more Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
  • Able to withstand harsh environmental conditions like drought, disease, and insects.
  • Fuller and healthier plots for increased nutrient to growing bigger bucks.

What are the fundamentals of PlotStart? Basically, your food plots need calcium and other cations, not lime, and DeerGro has the products to affect the plots immediately without using lime by releasing locked up nutrients that already exist in your soil profile while at the same time providing the plant an instant shot of available nutrients including calcium. If you do your research on lime you will find that Lime is not an essential nutrient, only a carbonate material that contains mostly insoluble calcium that the plant cannot access for some time…. and that pH is not a result, only an indicator of the lack of nutrients or abundance of nutrients in the soil.

If you look at soil test reports you will recognize the patterns, excess base saturation % of nutrients = high pH, and low percentage of nutrients = low pH. All you need to do is unlock(bio-activate) and recycle nutrients in the soil and from plant matter/crop residue and they will begin to park in space that hydrogen is occupying. When it comes down to what is actually occurring in the soil after applying PlotStart, it is knocking out the Hydrogen with the release of Ca, Mg, K and your result is higher pH.

If all you have ever heard is lime is “the best and only way to increase your food plots pH” , it is incorrect with the fact that all you need to do to truly change soil pH is to add Sodium(Na). This will change your food plot’s pH much quicker than lime, however, your plot will not do well because of the imbalance of Nutrients. Try applying a ton/acre of sodium on a small area,(not a good idea) this is proof that pH is an indicator not a result!

How PlotBoost Works

With many food plotters beginning to think about controlling their food plots as the summer and more weeds arrive they will begin to wonder about those herbicide’s effects. While food plotters worried about getting their soil right and their food plot’s pH right before planting, they will again start worrying after their seeds germinate. This distress comes in two forms, one competition with weeds and two individual plant health. With controlling weeds it might be as simple as an herbicide application, but this might cause or lead to a decline in the plant’s health. How? Herbicide yield drag, commonly in the form of a “Yellow flash” on your food plot plants after application of an herbicide. We see this a lot in roundup ready beans and corn that experience yield drags after an application of glyphosate (roundup).

Luckily for you and your food plots, there is a solution to this yearly problem. PlotBoost, a food plot enhancement spray can be directly mixed into the tank with herbicides to prevent and boost plants beyond the yield drag effects of an application. This is big news! This foliar applied food plot enhancement spray is the second product in the 2 product process of DeerGro, the first being an application of PlotStart for a food plot’s pH. PlotBoost is absorbed by the plant to increase water uptake, nutrient uptake, and fight yield dragging effects of an herbicide application.

The food plot enhancement spray PlotBoost™ will enrich your food plot and plantings by:

  • Boosts plant growth
  • Explodes growing environment with highly-desired nutritional supplements necessary to maximize growth and yield
  • Can be applied with any type of sprayer: hand-pump, backpack, ATV/UTV, or Tractor
  • Drastically improve fertilizer uptake and use by your food plots. Use less fertilizer annually because your plants can absorb more Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
  • Able to withstand harsh environmental conditions like drought, disease, and insects.
  • Reduces negative growth effects in food plots when using Round-up® or Glyphosate.
  • Improves efficiency of water use by the plant, allowing them to thrive in dry conditions.

 

Conclusion:

Spring and summer food plots can be critical for your fall hunting season, just make sure you invest wisely into your food plot program, strategy, and the food plots themselves. DeerGro products will unlock nutrients and give the food plot what it needs even while the pH is less than ideal…now that’s a big deal because pH changes in the soil on a daily basis depending on moisture and many other environmental factors.

Maximizing your food plot program yield and potential, with organic DeerGro, the right program, and food plot practices in a program that works to preserve soil health mean a world of difference to your hunting strategy.