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My Food Plot - Picture History

Food Plot info/questions, Herd Management, QDMA ...

My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:35 pm

Here is a photo of my food plot area taken in early September just after hacking it out of a forested woodland and before planting anything.

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Here is the same area photographed today in early December. Greenest front section was planted Nov. 6-7 and is 30 days old. Middle section was planted Nov. 14 and is 23 days old. Rear section was planted Nov. 28 and is 9 days old. All sections have germinated and are growing.

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This photo shows a view looking across the plot from west to east toward the 30 inch oak with a white X. The growth you are seeing is one month old but is green and growing well. The deer are hitting the area and browing it down.

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My food plot area was hand raked free of leaves and then 280 pounds of lime was broadcast in early September. The first section was planted two months later after the drought ended and there was sufficient moisture in the soil. The area was NOT disked or tilled. All seeds were simply broadcast at a rate about double the recommended rate.

The front section has been raked once of all leaves about two weeks ago. The other two sections have not been raked since planting. Leaves tend to cover a lot of the growth and I recommend leaving them in place for the first two weeks. It helps the young plants get a start without being browsed as heavily by the deer. Then rake the leaves away to improve the sunlight hitting the plants and keep them raked or blown off every 3-4 weeks thereafter.
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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby RoadRanger » Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:54 pm

WOW firecloud what a difference since I was last down there to visit you!! looks great.. have you had any luck with those deer ?
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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:59 pm

Here is a photo of a typical section of the first planted area.

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This photo shows a close up of an area not browsed much by the deer between the tree roots of a 30 inch oak. The 6 inch Bic pen shows the average growth for one month is about 6 inches height. You can see the Elbon rye is growing the best, with the Austrian Winter Peas growing in second place. But there is also a little of the Bob Oats, Winter Wheat, and maybe a Purple Top Turnip or two in this patch.

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The last photo shows a typical section of an area planted later on Nov. 14th. This section is 23 days old and the Bic pen again shows there is decent growth occuring, although this section has not filled in as thickly as the first planted section. This patch was predominately planted with Elbon rye.

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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:10 pm

Roadranger, the deer are hitting the plot every night as there are fresh tracks there every day. But the game camera has not taken a single photo of deer in the plot during any daytime hours over the past several days, nor have I seen any deer enter the plot in at least two weeks, although I don't hunt it every day. I have skipped hunting any the past two days to give myself a rest and stay completely out of the woods. You need to sneak in there early tomorrow or some other morning and get up in a stand on the north end. They are coming out of the woods right at the north trail entrance and you might catch one sneaking through early on one of these cold mornings. Come hunt anytime you desire. Just leave me a message on my cell to let me know you are out there.

I refreshed the mineral station too and they are also pawing it a little. Here is a photo.

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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:28 pm

Just to be clear, the Elbon rye in my seed mix is NOT rye grass. Elbon rye is a cereal grain, as is the winter wheat and the Bob oats. Most likely I will not actually get a "crop" of grain from any of these plants due to the late planting dates, however that is not all that significant as the deer will still eat the forage in its younger stages. In fact, they eat it it very well. They also are really eating the Austrian Winter Peas. They keep cutting the tops out of them so I may not get any pea production from them either. However, as long as they are visiting the food plot and eating the plants they are getting the protein and nutrition that they want and need.

The tracks show me the deer are hitting the second section mostly, as that growth is younger and more tender than the first section. This is taking some of the pressure off the first sections and allowing it to grow more, so it may be that as the two other third and forth sections planted even more recently start to green up, the deer will hit them in rotation, letting the first section get really well established. That is what I am hoping will happen so that there is at least a little chance I may get some peas or other production going in the first section.

Here is a photo of the newest fourth section I planted Dec. 5. It has not germinated yet. I have one final section to plant probably this weekend. Yes, I know all of you may think planting and growing things in the winter is crazy and impossible but I assure you it can be done in Jackson and points further south for sure....at least in some winters depending on the weather.

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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby dustygoodson » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:41 am

kool pics good luck with your late [lanting
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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:15 pm

Thanks, Dusty. It's a work in progress, for sure! Any plot simply hacked out of the woods lacks the type of soil that plants really need to grow. As an organic gardener, I know that full well. However it is what I had to work with this year, lacking both the equipment to do a better job, the soil moisture to plant at the right time, and the extra dollars to better prepare the land. Every thing done to develop and plant this plot was done with simple hand tools. A chain saw was the only power implement used for any part of this project.

I planted with no soil testing, no disking, no fertilizer, and I did not even pack or roll the seeds into the soil. I did however use good quality seeds from my local co-op and planted ahead of oncoming rains that do help pack the seeds into the dirt.

What this plot demonstrates is that you don't need a lot of money, tools, skills, or much of anything else to create a green food plot at the location where you want one. Mostly what you need is time and labor. My total dollar cost for everything for this plot so far is under $100. It is very surprising how much will germinate and grow even under less than ideal conditions.

And it absolutely does NOT take a blue ribbon food plot to attract deer. All it takes is young, tender plants that deer enjoy eating. The plot is full of deer tracks and the deer are browsing down the growth steadily night by night.

The seeds in my mix were selected because they are proven varieties for this area that are cold weather tolerant. Extreme cold will kill them of course, but quite often the winters are mild enough here at this location to allow plants to survive most, if not all, the winter even if growth is stunted somewhat. My hope is that for the remaining 8 weeks of the deer season this plot will continue to grow enought to be a very attractive source of browse for deer.

And of course I am hoping at least a few very hungry deer will decide to snack in the food plot during daylight hours before season is over!
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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:16 pm

Here is a photo of the third section of my food plot taken 25 days after planting on Nov. 28. This section contains winter wheat and is plenty green, as you can see. Sam is about to head down the north trail.

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This photo, taken a week ago, shows the entire length of the plot from the north trail looking south toward my shooting house. Despite regular browsing by the deer, the small part of the second section I raked shows the plot is thickening up nicely.

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And finally, having a green food plot of any nature, even one that is less than perfect such as mine is, will attract deer. This doe visits the plot on her way to bed down for the day.

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Once the plot is established and the deer begin feeding in it, they may not always stop to eat when they are passing through but they seldom fail to at least walk through it when they are in the vicinity.
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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby FireCloud » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:09 pm

Despite the late planting dates for the four sections of my food plot and growing it without any fertilizer whatsoever, I do have a nice, green plot with sufficent food for whatever deer still left that the neighbors have not poached at night.

Here is a photo taken Saturday, January 8 facing south toward my shooting house.

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My rake broke in half so I have not been able to rake the leaves back recently but the growth is about 3 inches or so overall throughout the plot. The deer are keeping it mowed at night to about that level, otherwise it would be 6 to 8 inches tall.

This photo shows the fourth section 34 days after planting on Dec. 5. As you can see, a small amount of green in strips did germinate here and there and is up about 2 inches high.

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Everything I have planted from the last week of October to the first week of December has germinated and is growing well, although it is thinner than it should have been due to the late planting and no fertilizer. If I had fertilized this plot, it would have been much better looking. But it attracts deer anyway. Here is one daytime visitor to the plot a month ago on Dec. 10.

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Re: My Food Plot - Picture History

Postby huntall » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:26 pm

Looking good considering the late planting. Mabe next year we will have enough moisture and we can plant the plots earlier.
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