Food Plot Maintenance Tip: Don't Mow, Let it Grow

Food Plot Maintenance Tip: Don't Mow, Let it Grow
Mowing wildlife food plots to control unwanted weeds and grass will only remove valuable biomass available to deer; there's a better option to keep plots healthy. (Jeremy Flinn photo)

To keep weeds and grass in food plots in check, a better option than mowing is to use a chemical spray

With spring rains soaking the landscape, many perennial food plots will begin to produce large amounts of highly nutritious deer foods. But as desirable food plot species like clover and alfalfa grow, so too does undesirable weeds and grasses.

As much as we complain about it in the spring and summer, it seems to be human nature we want to mow. Of course, there is a big difference between pushing a mower across your yard, and riding a tractor or ATV/UTV through food plots. Contrary to what many believe, maintenance on your spring food plots should not include mowing.

So why do people mow their food plots anyway? Well, typically there are two justifications in their thought process. The first one is to control weeds and grass. As spring weather promotes growth of the food plots, the dormant grass and weeds also thrive. The old mindset is to cut down these plants to control their growth. With some annual weeds like ragweed, mowing can control them. But other, more stubborn broadleaf weeds can grow back after being cut.

Worse than weeds are all the different grasses. Like a yard, a single cut is not going to keep grass under control. With their more prominent root system, grasses will compete more with food plot species than annual weeds. There is nothing more likely to choke out a food plot than grass.


The second reason some people mow food plots is to promote new growth. The mindset here is new growth is higher in nutrition and cutting will remove older, less nutritious plant parts. Often where alfalfa is used for hay, there will be multiple cuts for hay. But we are talking about food plots here, not food for cattle.


Every time a food plot is cut, valuable biomass is being removed. Rarely do food plots reach a size that is producing low-quality deer food; the deer herd will likely keep it in check at somewhere between 8 to 16 inches tall.


So how do you control weeds and grass in food plots? The easiest and most effective way is through using selective chemicals. For grass, use something with the active ingredient clethodim or sethoxydim. Either of these will knock out stubborn grass without affecting clover, alfalfa and chicory.

If oats or wheat are planted in the plot, these will be removed by the chemicals as well. For broadleaf weeds, using 2,4-DB or Butyrac will remove broadleaf weeds in the plot without killing of food plot species like clover, chicory and alfalfa. It also would not affect any grass-like species such as oats or wheat. This will, however, kill off plants under the brassica family.

As you plan spring food plot maintenance to produce high-quality deer food all summer, think about this: Why cut a plot and remove deer food? By spraying the plot you can ultimately leave all desirable food available for deer.


Recommended for You

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere. Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think? Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat. Guns

MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

As Pure Fishing's Andrew Upshaw explains, reel making giant Abu Garcia has done it again at ICAST 2019 with a new spinning reel geared towards finesse fishermen.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

We all have our Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper - April 02, 2015

We all have our "swear by" bait for catfish. For me, it is chicken liver, live shad or my...

 A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest.

Although the art Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Stories

More Whitetail

We put the latest best in-class compound bows through their paces. Bows

Best New Compound Bows for 2019

Jace Bauserman

We put the latest best in-class compound bows through their paces.

Executing a sharply angled shot is one of the toughest assignments in bowhunting. Here is how to ace it. Whitetail

Make the Shot: Steeply Angled Arrows

Tony J. Peterson - October 01, 2019

Executing a sharply angled shot is one of the toughest assignments in bowhunting. Here is how...

Deadline is approaching for Thiessens Guided Hunt Giveaway. Whitetail

5-Day Guided Hunt Top Prize of Giveaway

September 12, 2019

Deadline is approaching for Thiessens Guided Hunt Giveaway.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×