Why is testing you pH important?
Testing your pH is a critical step in the planting process because ultimately your soil environment will play a critical role in the success of your food plot. By testing your pH, with our DIY Kit or by sending your soil in to a lab, you gain an understanding of your soils ability to absorb nutrients and the forage and yield potential of your future food plot. A 7.0 is neutral and your desired pH Level and will allow plants to absorb 100% of the nutrients available, providing maximum yields and high quality forages. Testing your pH is Simple, Easy and our DIY Kit can provide results in 15 minutes.
Once I test my pH…then what?
Testing your pH gives you an understanding of the acidity or neutrality of your soil and provides a basic understanding of the health of your soil environment. A pH of a 7.0 is desired and should be your ultimate goal, however, a pH of a 5.5 doesn’t mean your food plot can’t be successful. Following your soil test, my recommendation would be to assess the test and determine a soil improvement strategy (or if it’s healthy - move on to soil prep). Lime (either pelleted or pulverized) can be applied to help improve your soil environment and make it more suitable for growing food plots. If you don’t have the time, money or willingness to apply lime to amend the soil, testing your pH can still act as a guide as you select your Domain Food Plot Mix…be sure you select a mix that is more tolerant to lower pH levels and doesn’t have the nutrient requirements of some others. For the most part, food plots can be successful in soils from 5.5-7.0…with forage production increasing the closer you are to 7.0.
What type of fertilizer should I use?
The type of fertilizer you use depends on the plants you intend to grow. Every Domain Food Plot Mix offers a recommended fertilizer on the side of the container. If you are planting clovers or something similar, I like to stick to a fertilizer with lower nitrogen levels (the first number) whereas when I plant my fall brassicas, I prefer to select something with more nitrogen and an even ration. Clover = 9-23-30 (for example) and Brassicas = 19-19-19 (for example).
Do I need heavy equipment to plant a food plot?
No. While heavy equipment can make the “job” easier, it definitely isn’t required. As long as you have a leaf rake, steel garden rake and some ambition, anything is possible. In order to create good seed to soil contact, you must remove weeds, debris and competition and disturb the soil bed to assist with root growth. All of that can be accomplished without heavy equipment. For a guide to best seed mixes for “No Till Situations” Click Here.
Is it ok to plant in shady areas?
Short answer, YES. Now realize ALL plants require some sunlight and some plants require more than others. If you’re planting Corn, Soy Beans, Sugar Beets, Sunflower, etc. you will want to plant in full sun, but many of your Domain Food Plot Mixes can handle semi-shaded food plot locations. The BEST Domain Food Plot Mixes for shady areas are Hot Chic and No BS…these mixes offer plant varieties that can handle 50% sun or less and still thrive. Many clovers, chicory, grains and some brassicas do the best in shadier areas.
What is the best food plot to plant?
Loaded question and it all depends on the Location, your Goals, When you are Planting and How Big and How Many Food Plots you are planting. Our Food Plot Selector Guide may help you determine what the best food plot is given your situation. In my experience, I’ve found that having variety is critical to holding deer on your property year-round…that’s why most of Domain’s offerings are comprised of specially formulated forage blends.
Does it matter when I plant brassicas?
It does matter when you plant brassicas. Now with that being said, brassicas CAN be planted in the Spring, Summer or early Fall with each planting window offering different results. Here are some tips to follow when planting brassicas - 1) If you plant Brassicas in the Spring, they will likely serve as a Late Season Food Source because they will grow through Spring and early Summer when there is plenty of other protein sources available to your deer and by late Summer or early Fall they will be “over mature” and will be less palatable and tender. As a result, deer will wait for a good hard frost before being attracted to them. 2) Brassicas planted in Summer will have plenty of time to mature before first frost, but will also provide high protein leafy forage, offering the best of both worlds and if the right brassica mix is selected, you should have deer in your plot from 10 days after planting all the way into Winter. 3) Brassicas are quick to germinate and once germinated grow extremely fast…so they can be an excellent mix to plant as a last minute early Fall planting or to overseed into standing beans that have been heavily browsed.
How deep should I plant my seeds?
Seed depth depends on seed size. The smaller the seed, the less it needs to be buried. General Rule of Thumb…large seeds like Beans, Peas, etc. can be planted around 1/2” deep and smaller seeds like clover or brassicas should be 1/4” or less. Many people will plant clovers or brassicas prior to a rain and allow the rain to “press” the seeds into the soil, instead of risking burying them. Tools like cultipackers and rollers can be extremely helpful in ensuring appropriate seed depth.
What is the proper soil preparation?
There is no one way to prep the soil. If you can remove weeds and eliminate competition and debris it’ll go a long ways to food plot success! My favorite way to soil prep would be to disk the soil…then let it sit for 2 weeks…allow unearthed weeds to germinate and then come through and till it up. Once tilled I will roll or cultipack and then seed and roll or cultipack again.
My food plot is less than 1 acre, can I still plant soy beans?
While many people will say “No, it’s a waste of time/money because they deer will eat them all,” I say YES and here’s why….when I’m planting food plots on my property the whole goal is for deer to be attracted to them and eat them and in smaller plots or in plots an acre or less where you want to plant beans, you just have to have a plan in place to ensure you have a sustainable food source present…that’s why we offer the varieties in our food plot blends that we do…to provide long lasting, high quality deer forages for as long as possible. So if you plant beans in a smaller plot, have the plan or intention to come back in in early Fall with a mix like Big Sexy or Green Machine and over-seed into the areas that have been heavily grazed…it will add important forages to your plot, increase attraction and longevity providing an improved hunting opportunity come Fall. The deer spent all summer creating a feeding pattern, that will continue into the fall with the addition of preferred Fall forages through over-seeding.
I have 1 food plot in the center of my property…what should I plant?
In this scenario you have 2 options. 1) Plant a food plot mix that offers variety to offer deer their nutritional needs all year long like Boss Brew or Sugar Momma (which both offer perennials and annuals, proteins and energy) or 2) Split the plot in 1/2 with Incognito and plant a high protein perennial like Comeback Kid or Hot Chic in the Spring and a Hunt Plot like Big Sexy or Green Machine in the late Summer. Whatever you plant, I would recommend plenty of variety and a combination of early season and late season food sources.
Do you have any mixes that work well on logging roads?
My goal when planting a property is to provide as much food as possible and planting the logging roads helps add more food if food plot creation isn’t an option. It can also provide a golden opportunity for a successful shot should a deer step out and feed into the trail. For most logging roads I will use a mixture of Hot Chic and Comeback Kid. They are both shade tolerant perennials that can handle light traffic and can be mowed to maintain. Once established they will last from 3-5 years and their life can be extended with periodic frost seeding or over seeding.
I have wet soil, what is best to plant?
First off, if it is standing water…a food plot will be difficult. However if it is a location with a natural underground creek, or naturally moist soil I would recommend food plot mixtures like Hot Chic, Comeback Kid or No BS. Several varieties of Clover, Chicory and plants like Oats and Rye can handle moisture the best. I would avoid brassicas with large taproots like turnip, radish or sugar beets.
My soil is sandy, what should I plant?
Most issues with planting in sandy soil can come from lack of water retention and lower pH levels (which can be improved with lime), however, having grown up in the sand belt of central Wisconsin we are very familiar with sand! The food plot mixes I find perform best in sand have deep tap roots and are the hardiest of plant varieties…No BS, Big Sexy, Green Machine and Hot Chic are the best when it comes to sand. Plant varieties like Radish, Rape, Oats, Chicory, Wheat and some Clovers can do very well in this type of environment…however, no matter what you plant, if it’s sandy you will need some help from Mother Nature.
I live in the South, can I plant anything in the Spring?
Summers are hot and can be ruthless on many food plot mixes. While some folks have luck with beans or iron clay peas, if you’re looking for something sustainable, Hot Chic could be a great option for you. Often times when planting Spring plots in the South, a semi-shaded plot will offer the best opportunity, and the plant varieties in Hot Chic, especially the Chicory are extremely drought and heat tolerant, while providing high levels of minerals and protein.
Incognito looks neat, how should I implement that on my property?
Incognito is an inexpensive plot mix that is extremely versatile and can be used on ANY property to help improve your habitat and your deer management program. You can use it to CONCEAL…since it grows 7-10 feet tall it can act as a great concealment mix to allow you to access stand locations or walk past food plots without bumping deer off the food source. It can act as a BLOCKif you have a food plot you want to block from the road, neighbors or evening spot lighters. It can provide COVER for upland birds, turkeys and deer and it can help IMPROVE your hunting opportunities by “directing traffic” in your food plots. Use it to segment or create walk ways from one area to the other or use it to help create an “hour glass” shape to a square food plot. This can be extremely critical when hunting the rut, in a large square a buck can spot check a food plot for does without walking into the open, however, if you create an “hour glass” shape you will force bucks to walk out into the plot to spot check the entire food plot. Incognito has a variety of purposes and all of them will help improve your hunting property!
What’s the difference between annuals and perennials?
Longevity. An Annual will germinate quickly and grows just for that growing season, whereas a Perennial can take longer to establish but once established can last for 3-5 years or more. It’s always wise to try to incorporate both into your food plot program.
What do the numbers on the fertilizer bag mean?
For instance of bag of 9-23-30. The first number is Nitrogen…N helps with plant “growth”. The second number is phosphorus…P helps with plant “establishment” and the third number is Potassium…K helps with stress tolerance. The physical numbers mean the % of each in a 50 pound bag. Meaning 4.5% of this bag is Nitrogen…so this type of fertilizer could be a great option for a mix like Comeback Kid or Fertilizer. When selecting fertilizers it can be VERY difficult to match the exact recommendation, so I suggest trying to follow the “sequence of numbers” more so than matching the exact numbers.
What is Frost Seeding and how do I do it?
Frost seeding occurs in the late Winter or Spring and can be a great way to establish cold season perennials like Hot Chic or Comeback Kid without tilling the ground in the Spring. Select a location that is devoid of weeds and debris…possibly an area that was “made ready” the prior Fall or an area that had a brassica mix like Big Sexy in it last Fall and has been eaten down to the dirt. You will select your preferred frost seeding mix, again, I prefer cold season perennials and I use a manual spreader to spread 1.5X the recommended rate onto the food plot area. In Wisconsin I will usually Frost Seed in Late March, with 1” of snow or no snow on the ground. Wait for the weather forecast to provide a Freeze-Thaw-Freeze-Thaw Pattern, where it freezes at night and thaws during the day for an extended period…this causes the soil to “heave” or expand and contract and will naturally allow for PERFECT seed to soil contact. After frost seeding, the seeds will lie in the soil until the soil and air temperatures warm to a desired level and will provide a quick “green up” and early Spring Protein to help feed Winter Weary Whitetails. March and April are extremely critical months for Antler Growth and Fawn Growth…so fresh green protein can make all the difference.