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.

Recommended for You

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

Walleye

How to Fish Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

Mark Sak - May 23, 2019

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

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.

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Wild Game

10 Memorial Day Recipes for Your Outdoor BBQ

OutdoorChannel.com Staff

Celebrate the start of summer with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these...

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...

Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Whitetail

Ground Zero: Texas' Record Bucks

Lynn Burkhead - February 15, 2019

A large portion of the state's Boone & Crockett bucks in the past five years came from five...

Whitetail

Ground Zero: Tennessee's Record Bucks

Richard Hines - February 14, 2019

Find out if North-Central Tennessee should be part of your big-buck plans.

Whitetail

Ground Zero: South Carolina's Record Bucks

Terry Madewell - February 15, 2019

Put the odds of tagging a big buck in your favor by hunting this four-county area in South...

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.

×