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I have a couple of areas that I would like to plant food plots in, but the soil is heavy clay. The sites currently have tall grass in them, but it is not exceptionally thick. The soil does not dry out completely and turn into hard pan in the middle of summer. I have been adding lime for the last year, and the soil is in the 6.5 to 6.8 pH range.

In looking into options of what to plant, I have seen no information on things that will grow well in a clay based soil. I would like to plant something for hunting in November and December, so I am leaning towards a brassica blend. Does anyone have any experience with food plots in clay? Aside from applying the correct amount of lime and fertilizer, are there ways to improve the soil through crop rotation?
 

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I have clay-loam soil as described by the USGS soil survey information that I received from my conservation district. Have you picked up a free soil survey and index from your conservation district?

My property had never seen a plow. It was fenced and was a cattle loafing area surrounded by hayfields. It took alot of work to get it to the point where I could plant it but I've had great results and above average hunting for my efforts.

Intially I plowed my plots down to the yellow clay to turn under the sod and root systems of the willows and tags. This worked pretty good to rid my land of the uneven surfaces. Since that time all I have to do is disc and drag where I intend to plant.

Brassicas do great in this type of situation but so does clover, buck wheat, rye grain, wheat, triticale, peas and soybeans. It does make for a short growing season because most years I can't do anything in the spring time due to the soil holding too much moisture for too long.


I rotate my plots between clover and brassicas. I've been at it for 10 seasons now and couldn't be happier. Pictures in my gallery will show that you can have good plots by planting in difficult to farm situations. I will also say that it would be nearly impossible to earn a living from this type of situation but I'm doing it to help out the local wildlife and my hunting.

Good luck.
 

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A variety of stuff will grow on heavy soil. It can be a little rough for row crops (corn, beans, peas) and alfalfa depending on how wet it is. For food plots, wheat/rye in the fall do well on heavy ground, as does brassica. Alfalfa is out, but alsike clover and perhaps ladino clovers also do well. So you can set up a pretty nice rotation over time.
 
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