Site Selection & Prep
Select the Site
Generally narrower and longer food plots are the best choice because deer prefer to feed as close to cover as they can. If you have a choice, make the plot the width of your broadcast spreader's maximum throw. If you have room, space them out. Many smaller plots are better than fewer larger ones. Generally bucks that are growing antlers tend not to mix with does and fawns. Smaller plots provide more comfortable access for bachelor groups. They will eat more of your high quality forage helping them grow larger antlers. And it is a lot easier to hunt.
Do a soil test as soon as you can! You can also request fertilization analysis. Tests can be obtained through your local Soil & Water Conservation District Office. You can also pick up pH kits from lawn and garden centers or through the Heartland Wildlife Institute store. Granular lime takes two to three months to begin neutralizing the soil. Generally the pH needs to be 6.5 to 7 for maximum germination and fertilizer uptake. If you haven't limed ahead, try liquid lime or hydrated lime. It neutralizes much faster and can be applied at seeding time. If the soil is acidic (below 6.0), it can affect germination and reduce fertilizer uptake, resulting in poor strands and lackluster growth.
Before you begin tilling, it is a good idea to "step off" and mark the size of your plot. If your spreader throws 30' wide, then your plot would be 733" long to make 1/2 acre (22,000 sq. ft.). If you step it off, you are less likely to overseed or underseed. Our seed mix varieties are selected to complement not compete with other varieties in the mix. Overseeding can cause some varieties to be crowded out. Underseeding can lead to more weeds and overbrowsing resulting in a shorter life.
Prep the Site
Tilling has two objectives. To eliminate as much weed and grass competition as possible and to provide more seed to soil contact. These are a few basic steps that will lead to successful plots.
Mow the plot as short as you can. Remove excess thatch if it is thick enough to interfere with tillage or good soil/seed contact.
Disking or rotovating will do the job. "Plowing" is not necessary and in fact, we do not recommend it for perennial plots or even our annuals. So depending upon what you term "plowing", (turning the soil over to a depth of 6-8 inches using a regular plow), every one of our plots are NO TILL!
(Optional) This step depends upon how much you want to spend and how important the "look" (mostly weed and grass free) is for you for your plot. About two weeks after your first tillage, spray the new "green" growth with a glyphosate, such as Round Up. Wait for a few days, and go over the plot "lightly" with your disk, rotovator, or even a harrow section. The objective is to "rough" up the soil a little to improve seed to soil contact.