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Discussion Starter #1
I am planning on doing a 1/2 acre food plot this spring.I had planned on using a combo of white clover,rape,turnips,and buckwheat.Does this sound like a good mix or do I need more? This would be my first attempt at a food plot.
 

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This is what I do, but I have extremely poor soils to start with. At the same time, your weeds have to be controlled before planting so maybe a similar crop rotation will work for you....if you have not corrected your potential weed problems:

A typical new food plot I have installed has had very similar beginnings and has followed some pretty simple steps. Many new plots have started in May. In mid-May the local snow melt has just about completely dissipated and the fields are in acceptable working conditions. The site is cleared in some manner, either by the FEL on my tractor, light bulldozer work, or a combination of both. When the field is “level”, a minimum of 4 tons of lime per acre is then applied due to initial ph levels between 4.1 and 5.0. Typically, the field will sit until the first of June when our frosts and freezes have subsided and then buckwheat is broadcast on the field. The majority of the time the seeds are not cultipacked, but buckwheat has proven to germinate well with adequate moisture. After six to eight weeks weeds are actually a welcome sight within the field and the new plot is sprayed for the first time to control weed growth. Then, at the appropriate time for the region, annual rye is then broadcast on the field. The new plot is then enjoyed by both deer and hunters for fall through early winter, and will stay green and productive through early spring. About the time the rye is reaching a foot or more in mid spring there begins a second round of various weeds, including bracken fern. Another shot of herbicide is used at this time, and the field again begins the buckwheat phase. By late summer the field can be sprayed a 3rd time within a year, after 3 soil building crops of buckwheat and rye. Soil tests at this time have shown to be dramatically improved and it is at this time that the new food plot is ready for a “premium” planting, including a combination of annuals with a perennial base that will be maintained on a rotational basis with a life of two years or more if desired.

Also, try not to think along the lines of "this will be my first attempt". Instead, think, this will be my first food plot, I will do it correctly, and can't wait to see the results. Except for the most non-typical weather circumstances or bad advice, failure shouldn't be of the process.

If your soils are already good, you can spray mid-spring, then again after 4-5 weeks, and finally again after another 4-5 weeks at which time you will have mostly soil exposed and your field will be ready for a good brassica/clover blend when you can see moisture in the forecast. If there is a dry period in late summer, you can wait until around Labor Day in your area, and plant a combination of oats/rye/clover and enjoy!

You came to the right site!
 

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Do what NorthJeff says. However I am always one to experiment. Try and get one tiny corner of that plot in brassica mix in the spring. Just watch it for deer use and how it will grow. Maybe you will even get growth for fall from it, if not browsed all off. Keep a notebook, so you will know what worked for next year. Record the type of lime and how much you used. Also any fertilizer.

My tiny backwoods plots of brassica do ok when I mix in pel lime and slow release fertilizer like from garden supply stores. These are tiny plots-maybe 100 -200 square feet.
 

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This is a brassica field I planted in WI this year. It was in the middle of a CRP field that has grass in it that gets growth that is 4-5' or higher every year, so although the soil was great..the weeds were bad. I killed it 3 times throughout the summer, with the first killing in May. Around the first of August there looked to be a good amount of moisture coming..or at least enough, so I simply broadcasted a brassica mix on the exposed soil and left it. No tilling, no cultipacking, nothing. Around Labor day when I came back the brassica was about 6" high and I applied about 150-200#'s 19-19-19. When I came back 4 weeks later the brassica was mostly 2' high and completely filled the over 400 yard field totalling around 2 acres.

That's the same method I've used on my property on already corrected soil and it works great! You run the risk of drought killing spring planted crops, but even so, you can plant again in late summer and try again. Brassica and clover in spring is a great combo because the brassica helps take the heat off of the clover in a situation that would have otherwise killed young clover due to drought...but it's still not typically as reliable as a late summer planting. I'd do what Sandbur said though and try a little spot so you can compare for yourself and see what works, or doesn't. Bottom line though, if you have weeds, and they are not corrected, they will overtake the field very quickly.

Much of this brassica ended up almost 3' high after an early August planting, and you can see the amount of weed growth on the sides of the field that we eliminated.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks for the info. I failed to mention that the areas were weed free and I applied manure last fall and plan to add more this spring.
 

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I bet you will have weeds flourishing soon. All my plots are cleared spruce/tamerack/jackpine/whitepine/redpine/fir, with mostly just moss. The weeds will creep in eventually...can actually be quite a bit in the first year to the point that your plot can be taken over by fall.

Something pretty fool-proof that will cover your bases just in case is to plant a summer food source that you can spray in say late july to kill any weeds and go with a more premium planting like you want in the late summer when weeds are dying, instead of thriving. Buckwheat is great, but something aggresive that can compete with weeds and will be a good summer food source. You want to let those weeds come out...and then kill them. I'm sure they are there though. An exstention agent from NE Ohio told me about a parking lot they had cleared that had been in existance for 50 years..all pavement. They cleared the pavement and by fall weeds covered the field a few feet high....they are always there.
 

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Talked with an old farmer the other day about this. HE said he heard that some weed seeds can sit dormant for 100+ years. He said he didn't know if he believed it but said that he knew there were always some in there. He uses rr beans and corn and sprays 2-3 times a year and still has them year after year.
 
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FREEPOP, that old farmer heard it right. Weed seed, (all seed for that matter) is light sensitive and once the cover is killed or there is tillage that brings up old buried seed within 1/4 of the surface there is a good chance decades old weed seed springs to life.

There are ways to darn near eliminate this problem.
 

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Ed Spin04 said:
There are ways to darn near eliminate this problem.
Hope some ideas are in your new book, as I have a couple in the mail.
 
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