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Discussion Starter #1
Apologies in advance if I’m not posting under the correct topic, I’m new to the forum.

I am going to be planting a food plot for whitetail on family wooded property adjacent to the Roscommon State Forest area this year. Planning to conduct a soil test in the spring, but I already know from experience and publicly available soil surveys that the soil will be mostly sand. I plan to start with a couple of 1/4 to 1/3 acre kill plots. In one location we’ve planted winter rye in the past (last was about 3 years ago) and it still comes back each year but as you can imagine worse and worse each year without any attention. The other plot location would be previously untouched soil.

A few questions for the more experienced food plot planters here.

1. What would you recommend planting as a first year fall crop here? It will need to be something fairly hardy that only requires weekend attention because I live downstate.

2. I’m assuming I’ll have better luck with the existing (but neglected) winter rye plot. It was limed and fertilized last 3 years ago, but I’m assuming the leftover rye should provide some organic material to the soil when I disc it under. Within this plot, would you wait to disc until summer only a few weeks before planting? Or if additional liming is needed, would you disc as early as possible to get the lime into the soil?

3. My initial plan is to plant either turnips or radish because a) they claim to do well in Sandy soils and b) everything I’ve read is that brassica is the best northern Michigan food plot attractant if it can be grown. I was thinking of planting this with some forage oats at the same time towards the middle to end of July. Is it ok to plant these at the same time? Should I wait and plant the oats over the brassica few weeks later? I was also considering over-seeding with winter rye in September if the deer hit it hard and end up with a plot that is going to be mowed down to bare ground by October.

Thanks
 

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I would start with soil samples this spring in the areas you want to plant, and as stated, you probably will need lime. Maybe some buckwheat in the late spring, that you can cut / pack down for your fall crop.
Rye works for me as a fall crop, and I mix in turnips & radishes when planting, but if the Ph is poor, they will need the lime & fertilizer to take off. May also want to try some winter peas with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I would start with soil samples this spring in the areas you want to plant, and as stated, you probably will need lime. Maybe some buckwheat in the late spring, that you can cut / pack down for your fall crop.
Rye works for me as a fall crop, and I mix in turnips & radishes when planting, but if the Ph is poor, they will need the lime & fertilizer to take off. May also want to try some winter peas with it.
Thanks. Would you recommend liming ahead of planting the buckwheat (after the soil test comes back)? Perhaps liming as early as the weather allows for tilling the ground and then planting the buckwheat in mid May? And do I need to spray it with glyphosate before disking in late July/ early August when I go to prep the seedbed to plant the fall crops (I’m not super well versed in the terminology so I don’t know if I understand what it means to cut / pack down). Thanks again for the advice.
 

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Your soil test is the easiest and most inexpensive part of a food plot. Follow the recommendations. More than likely lime will be required and it takes time to work. Lime as early in the season as practical which includes incorporating it into the soil. That will terminate your rye which is tough to deal with in terms of getting rid of the biomass it produces when mature.

Buckwheat seed is inexpensive and is not terribly ph sensitive. Plant buckwheat after the last chance of frost. Let it mature, till it in and over seed with cereal rye. From what I have found Aroostook rye is a preferred variety. If you get an early spring it’s possible to get two crops of buckwheat to mature prior to your late summer planting of rye.

Brassica does much better in heavier soil than sand. It can tolerate lower ph but like most things it does much better when Ph is in the 6s. It is a nitrogen hog so fertilize per your soil test. Adding annual clover seedto your buckwheat will help add nitrogen over time. Depending on where your soil Ph is after 6 months to a year consider rotating multiple plantings per season. Plan on soil testing annually to see how your efforts impact soil fertility. Good luck. It a marathon not a sprint.
 

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Bobcat. If you haven't already been there, I would suggest that you look at some of the many videos that Jeff Sturgis has posted on his website - Whitetail Habitat Solutions.

Food Plots

Sturgis has pretty much gone to using no-till planting techniques which is best for your soil...and best for a lot of other reasons as well. Discing your soil - particularly sandy soil will only destroy Organic Matter. Contrary to popular belief it does not build it.

You can have an effective small food plot program with fairly limited equipment like a sprayer, mower, cultipacker or roller and a hand held seed spreader.

Yes, get your soil test done early and plan on spreading lots of lime (probably at least 2 tons per acre) along with a lot of fertilizer to start amending the soil nutrients. It isn't going to happen overnight but you can get headed in the right direction.

In addition to the Sturgis videos and books there are many other great books out there which will get you started.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Bobcat. If you haven't already been there, I would suggest that you look at some of the many videos that Jeff Sturgis has posted on his website - Whitetail Habitat Solutions.

Food Plots

Sturgis has pretty much gone to using no-till planting techniques which is best for your soil...and best for a lot of other reasons as well. Discing your soil - particularly sandy soil will only destroy Organic Matter. Contrary to popular belief it does not build it.

You can have an effective small food plot program with fairly limited equipment like a sprayer, mower, cultipacker or roller and a hand held seed spreader.

Yes, get your soil test done early and plan on spreading lots of lime (probably at least 2 tons per acre) along with a lot of fertilizer to start amending the soil nutrients. It isn't going to happen overnight but you can get headed in the right direction.

In addition to the Sturgis videos and books there are many other great books out there which will get you started.
Thanks, long term I would like to go no till if possible just for convenience sake and because I’m not sure how long the 70 year old John Deere tractor and Dearborn disc and cultivator I have inherited will last before they require expensive maintenance. I would assume I need to at least disc once to get the lime into the soil initially though, correct? I already have all of the tools you mentioned available to me for a no till management program, so that is good news.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Your soil test is the easiest and most inexpensive part of a food plot. Follow the recommendations. More than likely lime will be required and it takes time to work. Lime as early in the season as practical which includes incorporating it into the soil. That will terminate your rye which is tough to deal with in terms of getting rid of the biomass it produces when mature.

Buckwheat seed is inexpensive and is not terribly ph sensitive. Plant buckwheat after the last chance of frost. Let it mature, till it in and over seed with cereal rye. From what I have found Aroostook rye is a preferred variety. If you get an early spring it’s possible to get two crops of buckwheat to mature prior to your late summer planting of rye.

Brassica does much better in heavier soil than sand. It can tolerate lower ph but like most things it does much better when Ph is in the 6s. It is a nitrogen hog so fertilize per your soil test. Adding annual clover seedto your buckwheat will help add nitrogen over time. Depending on where your soil Ph is after 6 months to a year consider rotating multiple plantings per season. Plan on soil testing annually to see how your efforts impact soil fertility. Good luck. It a marathon not a sprint.
Thanks for the reply. Would it be best to start with a very small amount of a simple hardy brassica like a forage rape mixed into the rye plot just to provide the deer with some late season variety? I’ve read that rye, rape, and buckwheat can all be used (properly rotated) to improve soil conditions over them.
 

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Do not ever be afraid to experiment. You are not out much money on small plots. Brassica seed will only cost about $30/acre unless you purchase it with a buck on the bag. The proper amount of fertilizer required will cost a lot more than seed. Pressing the seed into a properly prepared seed weed/grass free bed goes a long ways to success along with timely rain fall. Do not till in.
 
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I'm right on the Roscommon / Oscoda boarder. With small plots like that I would go with rye, winter wheat or buck forage oats or a combo of WW and buck forage oats. You can mix can mix in the brassicas but they have different planting dates and depth for the seed. From my experience I wouldn’t put my eggs into the brassicas. I tried with a acre of rape. Had plot saver up for August and September but like you I’m down state and they ended upgoing under it and the matter of 2 week the acre was mostly gone. I had to over seed in rye. Your small plots I would plant at the end of August in winter wheat and buck forage oats combo. Then in September any bare spots over seed in rye. It will take the browse pressure and you will be able to hunt over it in Oct and Nov. Those small plots will be dirt come the end of Oct if you try brassica. I lived that mistake. Lol
 

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Thanks, long term I would like to go no till if possible just for convenience sake and because I’m not sure how long the 70 year old John Deere tractor and Dearborn disc and cultivator I have inherited will last before they require expensive maintenance. I would assume I need to at least disc once to get the lime into the soil initially though, correct? I already have all of the tools you mentioned available to me for a no till management program, so that is good news.
Sure - It sounds like these plots are still in their infancy stage so some tillage will be OK in order to get things leveled out, and of course, it will be a little easier to get the lime incorporated into the soil using tillage, so go ahead with that as planned. Once you get that done though I would encourage you to move towards a no-till program, both for the ease of planting as well as the health of your soil.
 
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I'm right on the Roscommon / Oscoda boarder. With small plots like that I would go with rye, winter wheat or buck forage oats or a combo of WW and buck forage oats. You can mix can mix in the brassicas but they have different planting dates and depth for the seed. From my experience I wouldn’t put my eggs into the brassicas. I tried with a acre of rape. Had plot saver up for August and September but like you I’m down state and they ended upgoing under it and the matter of 2 week the acre was mostly gone. I had to over seed in rye. Your small plots I would plant at the end of August in winter wheat and buck forage oats combo. Then in September any bare spots over seed in rye. It will take the browse pressure and you will be able to hunt over it in Oct and Nov. Those small plots will be dirt come the end of Oct if you try brassica. I lived that mistake. Lol
Do You get your seed at the mill in West Branch?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm right on the Roscommon / Oscoda boarder. With small plots like that I would go with rye, winter wheat or buck forage oats or a combo of WW and buck forage oats. You can mix can mix in the brassicas but they have different planting dates and depth for the seed. From my experience I wouldn’t put my eggs into the brassicas. I tried with a acre of rape. Had plot saver up for August and September but like you I’m down state and they ended upgoing under it and the matter of 2 week the acre was mostly gone. I had to over seed in rye. Your small plots I would plant at the end of August in winter wheat and buck forage oats combo. Then in September any bare spots over seed in rye. It will take the browse pressure and you will be able to hunt over it in Oct and Nov. Those small plots will be dirt come the end of Oct if you try brassica. I lived that mistake. Lol
Thanks for the advice. The more I read here and elsewhere, it seems like unless the soil test comes back with unexpected and miraculous results, my options are limited. I’ll probably go with the mix you suggested and possibly a small amount of forage radish for the fall planting in an effort to improve the soil compaction and offer some winter bulbs. It sounds like everything except the cereal rye should be planted by the middle of August?
 

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I get my seed from the Amish feed store north of Mio off Kettle Rd. The fertilizer prices are not bad either

I try to plant the 3rd week of August closer to Labor Day for Winter Wheat, Rye or Buck forage Oats
It depends on the weather but I have even over seeded rye well into September in bare spots.

That's the hard part really. Most of the brassicas ( radishs, rape & P.T. Turnips )really need to be plant in July but you should not plant the Winter Wheat, Rye or Oats that early. So if you wait till 3rd week of Aug to plant the brassicas they don't get much size.

I will say this isn't a plug either but on a few of my small killplots I call them. Antler Kings No Till has worked great for me. I disc the plot even know they say you don't have to. It grows way better if you prepare the seed bed. My bigger plots I buy the bulk stuff from the feed store.
 

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Kittle road in Miso is a good place to buy seed and fertilizer. Their prices are alittle better that West Branch. I’ve got a place on the Ogemaw/Roscommon boarder if planting buckwheat I usually plant Memorial Day weekend just to avoid the late frosts.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Michiganreaper, have you tried to plant any clover in Roscommon, and if so, with what success? I’m looking for a shade tolerant green manure to seed early June to complement the buckwheat where the buckwheat may not grow as well.
 

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In my experience buckwheat is easy to grow then clover. Make sure to cage a small area so you know if it is growing and getting browsed or not growing. It helps with the frustration level. Lol. Clover has done alright. The rainy summer years it does better. The second year of a clover plot year is even better. 82786.jpeg
 

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Sorry to give you bad news but with 1/4 to 1/3 acre plots even two most likely will be ate to the ground. Lot of good advice already and experimenting to find what they like and works. Of course your soil sample will help determine what you can or should plant. My advice is to lean toward a highly regeneration crop that will handle medium to high forage. I also would recommend considering perineal one for not living there or close also not able to water. A couple ideas is a mix of white Dutch clover/chicory mix or even small Burnet. On your options for soil building do not leave out the use of field radishes. Best of luck whatever you decide on.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Sorry to give you bad news but with 1/4 to 1/3 acre plots even two most likely will be ate to the ground. Lot of good advice already and experimenting to find what they like and works. Of course your soil sample will help determine what you can or should plant. My advice is to lean toward a highly regeneration crop that will handle medium to high forage. I also would recommend considering perineal one for not living there or close also not able to water. A couple ideas is a mix of white Dutch clover/chicory mix or even small Burnet. On your options for soil building do not leave out the use of field radishes. Best of luck whatever you decide on.
Thanks for the advice. Would winter wheat or buck forage oats be considered a high regeneration crop? I’m planning for them to possibly be eaten to the ground and therefore plan to overseed with winter rye around Labor Day weekend (a month after planting). Definitely plan to mix some field radish in for no till soil maintenance purposes / to add a tiny bit of a brassica to the plot. I’m also planning to use buckwheat (full sun areas) and clover (shaded areas) as a summer crop and green manure for fall.

I have another 1.25-1.5 acre area that was hit really hard by a storm a few years ago. We had a logging company come out and they cleared a decent amount but there’s still a big mess. Planning to clear it out by hand and tractor if I can this summer but likely won’t be able to get a soil test until later summer / early fall. so planning to hopefully get it cleared, tested, and limed before winter in preparation for 2022. I’m excited about this area because it should offer full sun across the entire plot and the soil should maintain moisture slightly better based on the public soil survey information I was able to find.
 

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Oats will get hurt by an early frost. I’d stick with winter wheat or winter rye. The rye has similar usage as rye but grows at a lower temperature.
 

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I live in crawford county on the north end with plenty of sandy soil. When i first started several years ago, I planted buckwheat, 2 plantings in the summer, followed by rye and red clover. I got impatient and tried brassicas first year and it failed. Several years later and i now grow just about everything. The deer really hit my clover hard,last year i tried crimson red clover and will do that again, they devour it.
 
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