Lansing, Michigan – -(Ammoland.com)- Once again, it’s time to establish wildlife food plots. According to experts, the first week in August is the best time to plant and if the soil has not been prepared, it’s now or never.
Success is never guaranteed, because Mother Nature holds the trump cards which can spoil the most valiant efforts. If seeding can be timed with rainfall – either before or after – the plot has a chance. But, it takes more than one soaking to establish plants, so watch the weather to minimize failure risk.
A few years ago, I became concerned that seed had actually been killed from lack of rain, so I replanted. When the rain finally arrived, the double dose of seed was too much and excessive plants meant under-developed plants and a waste of expensive seed. Sometimes there is no winning in this guessing game.
In the first years of food plot work, spraying to kill noxious weeds and grass was a necessity. There simply was no way our small-time equipment could break through the tangled mass of vegetation without killing it and letting it decompose first.
Now that the perennial grass is only minimally present, no spray will be applied this time around minimizing labor and expense. The reason goes beyond an absence of grass, even though the field is filled with pigweed. This naturalized vegetation seems too persistent to rid the field of it, and now I believe attempting to control it is a waste of resources.
Here is what I’ve observed over the years relative to these unsightly weeds. Deer will eat the plants before they get too tall and tough and that’s a good thing. Sure they are ugly in an otherwise good-looking plot, but we are not entering food plots in a beauty contest. Spraying glyphosate will kill the plants this time of year but the seed heads are already on the plants. So, when the dead plants are tilled into the soil, the seeds germinate along with the chosen plants.
In addition, in harsh winter conditions, tiny wintering juncos and finches feast on the seeds protruding over deep snow. It’s like a huge birdfeeder with free seed!
It’s best to get fertilizer and lime worked into the soil before planting, but these operations can actually be performed when planting; the difference, however, can be dramatic by getting the nutrients in the soil in advance. In any event, a good way to waste time and money is to skip any one of these essential steps in an effort to cut costs. Remember: Penny wise and pound foolish.
Fortunately, fertilizer costs have dropped sharply from their highs a few years ago but at over $20/per 50 pounds, it is still a significant expense – but a necessary one to maximize results.
Now it’s time to roll the dice once more.
About Glen Wunderlich
Charter Member Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Outdoor writer and columnist for The Argus-Press (www.argus-press.com) and blog site at www.thinkingafield.org Member National Rifle Association (NRA), Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), member U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). Adjutant of Perry, Michigan Sons of Amvets Post 4064 and Chairman Perry (MI) Youth Hunt Extravaganza, a sanctioned event of Perry Sons of Amvets held the fourth weekend of September each year.