Think Wheat in Summer Heat

Plant winter wheat in mid-August to benefit wildlife

Think Wheat in Summer Heat
Jim Barnard, wildlife technician for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, loads winter wheat seed into a no-till planter.

From Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The heat of summer is a good time to begin thinking about fall plantings to benefit wildlife.

Winter wheat is a top choice for a fall crop because it is readily eaten by deer and wild turkey and is an excellent nurse crop for clover. Winter wheat is typically planted Aug. 15 through Oct. 31.

Broadcast wheat seed with a hand-crank spreader and rake or disk it under.


“I recommend planting clover at the same time you plant the wheat,” said Joe Lacefield, a private lands wildlife biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The clover will take root over the winter and come on the next spring as the wheat starts to die back.”


In tobacco country, winter wheat has been the cover crop of choice to the benefit of wildlife. High in protein and easily digestible, winter wheat provides high quality green forage which is especially attractive in the late season.

Lacefield said one way to prepare a site is to mow, then apply herbicide when the re-growth starts.

“After the weeds have died back, then till the area before planting,” said Lacefield. “Ideally, you want to time the planting of your winter wheat and clover seed in anticipation of rain.”

Another site preparation option is tilling or mechanical cultivation whenever the plot is dry over a period of time leading up to planting. Tilling uproots grass and weeds and loosens the soil.


Plots should be located on a level spot with decent soil fertility and full sun a majority of the day.

Winter wheat grows best when the soil has a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Use a soil test to measure the nutrient levels of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) as well as the acidity of the soil. Soil test kits are available at most farm stores. Follow directions carefully.

If fertilizer needs to be added to your plot, consider using 10-10-10, a formulation commonly available in 50-pound bags. Both fertilizer and agricultural lime are available in pellet form, for easy application with a hand-crank spreader. Lime improves water penetration and the uptake of nutrients of plants growing in acidic soils. Don’t skimp on the amount of lime that is recommended. Low pH is usually an issue with soils in Kentucky.


Two excellent plot locations are the edge of a field or an existing woods opening that deer or turkey are already using. Your tree stand or ground blind should be within easy shooting range and downwind of the plot.

Lacefield suggests planting Ladino or white clover in shaded, woodland openings. Red clover seems to do better in open fields with full sun, growing well on the warm weather days in September and October. Red clover grows taller than white clover and is less impacted by weeds, but all stands of clover need periodic mowing to thrive.

This perennial cool-season legume helps increases soil fertility and provides an almost year-round source of high quality forage for wildlife. An established plot of clover starts growing in the early spring and lasts until it is killed back by the heaviest frosts of late fall.

Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Here's a look at some of coyote hunting rifles and shot gun featured in this summer's Game & Fish 2018 Gear Guide magazine. Stories

Gear Reviews: New Coyote Hunting Rifles, Shotguns

Game & Fish Online Staff - September 07, 2018

Here's a look at some of coyote hunting rifles and shot gun featured in this summer's Game &...

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting 

All Stories

3 Coyote Guns

Brad Fitzpatrick - September 28, 2017

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting...

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can Stories

Predator Hunting: 3 Ways to Find Elusive Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2018

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

See More Stories

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.