Plant Perennial Food Plots in the Spring or Fall?

Plant Perennial Food Plots in the Spring or Fall?
All perennial food plot seed is much smaller compared to that of corn, soybean or even radish. (Jeremy Flinn photo)

For many deer hunters, spring is filled with shed hunting, maybe some turkey chasing, and a little R&R by the lake or on the creek bank. But spring also can be one of the most opportune times to help out your deer herd.

I know, it’s hard to start thinking about next season when this one just finished. But the fact is, if you want to have some quality deer to hunt next season, you got to make sure they have what they need to eat during the spring. With most corn and soybean fields weeks away from being productive, perennial food plots can be put in the ground now to maximize nutrition.

Perennial food plots can be planted during two time periods for most of the country: spring and fall. The exception would be in the far North where fall planting would not provide enough growing days to truly thrive. There are definitely some advantages to both timings, and even strategies to incorporate both when planting multiple perennial food plots.

The spring can be a great time to plant for most looking to provide quality nutrition during spring and summer when antlers are growing, fawn are being born, and does have extremely high energy demands. For those in the North, it may be the only time to establish a good perennial stand.


The spring also ensures, barring weather issues or deer destruction, you will have one heck of a clover, chicory or alfalfa stand come hunting season. The downfall of spring planting can be that the heat and dry of summer may take its toll on the food plot, and potentially cause a complete plot failure.


Policy
During average summer conditions, clover and chicory can produce a lot of high quality forage for deer and turkey. With proper attention, these plots can last five to six years. (Jeremy Flinn photo)

Planting during the early fall is desirable for many locations, especially in the South. By April or early May, temperatures start to soar, and dry conditions have started. Planting in September or October can catch cooler days and nights, as well as fall rains. The disadvantage is that you miss the nutritional aspect the first year.

Some perennials live for two or more years. Many white clovers, like ladino, can last up to five or six years. You also may not have as full of a plot for hunting season as you might if planted in the fall. To get around this, you could add some annual crimson or arrow-leaf clover to the mix and get a faster establishing plot, while the perennials establish.

If you are planting multiple perennial food plots, consider staggering the planting where applicable. This will provide varying levels of attractiveness and nutrition levels based on plant age. You can’t hardly ever go wrong with variety when planting food plots.


Personally, I am a big fan of planting in the spring. In other words, get out there! The nutritional boost you will give your deer the first year will be rewarding, and just keep your fingers crossed for an “average” temperature and precipitation summer.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

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.

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.

Mustad

Mustad's New Tungsten Weights

Long known as one of the world's premiere hook makers, Mustad's Reid McKinstry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that the company is now one of the leaders in making tungsten terminal tackle products for anglers.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes. Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Outdoor BBQ

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Most major deer-urine scent companies are adopting the technology. Whitetail

Commercial CWD Test for Deer Scents Available, in Wide Use

Game & Fish Digital Staff - February 20, 2020

Most major deer-urine scent companies are adopting the technology.

Can you pattern bucks during the rut? The answer is yes, and here's how. Hunting How-To

Order Out of Chaos: Patterning Rutting Bucks

David Johnson

Can you pattern bucks during the rut? The answer is yes, and here's how.

Optimize your rut strategy by knowing when to use calls and when to stay quiet. Whitetail

The Pros & Cons of Calling Deer

Bruce Ingram - November 22, 2019

Optimize your rut strategy by knowing when to use calls and when to stay quiet.

2018 Arkansas typical whitetail came from waterfowl land and scored 200+ points. Records

Decade's Best: William Lloyd's Record Whitetail

Lynn Burkhead - January 14, 2020

2018 Arkansas typical whitetail came from waterfowl land and scored 200+ points.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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