Top 3 Spring Food Plot Options for Growing Bigger Whitetail Racks

Late summer, early fall food plot plantings are attractants and do not help with antler development; planting early spring food plots will help add mass and inches to buck headbones

Top 3 Spring Food Plot Options for Growing Bigger Whitetail Racks
Reap what you sow; a little hard work in the spring will help yield bigger dividends in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Flinn)

With winter slowing disappearing with the arrival of spring, deer season is still many months away. However, the fact is bucks are entering one of the most critical time periods for antler and body growth.

After a grueling rut and scarce winter food source options, bucks are in critical need of high-quality nutrition to repair their bodies and begin antler growth. The longer it takes to recoup from the winter, the less time a buck will have to grow – both body and antler wise – before the arrival of fall.

This means the early spring period is extremely critical. During the spring green-up, more abundant, high-quality native food will be available. In addition to native food sources, land owners and hunters also can provide supplemental deer nutrition in terms of food plots.

Though the majority of hunters only think about food plots during the late summer early fall, food plots in the spring play a much more significant deer nutrition role than those in the fall.


So what are the top options to plant for spring food plots?


Clover
You absolutely cannot go wrong with most varieties of clover; it’s a great protein source. It’s easy to establish, and is tolerant to many soil and climate conditions. Due to seed size, which is small, planting depth isn’t much of a concern with literally just seed-to-soil contact being sufficient in many cases.

Clover is great option for year-round plots. But is especially good in early spring, whether it’s a perennial white clover coming out of dormancy, or a freshly planted food plot. For the latter, mixing a fast-growing annual clover, like Crimson Clover, with a perennial, like Ladino White Clover, will yield a plot for many springs in the future. Try planting about 5 pounds per acre of Crimson Clover and 3 pounds per acre of Ladino White Clover.

Alfalfa
A more difficult plating to establish than clover, and only in perennial varieties, alfalfa is still an amazing food plot option for the spring. Because it’s slower to establish, it’s best to plan a spring in advance. That’s not to say there won’t be anything to consume the first spring it is planted, but it will be much more establish the second spring.

In fact, to protect it during the slow growth of the first spring, typically it is planted with a cover crop like wheat, oats, or even annual clover. Alfalfa seeds should be planted at around 15 pounds per acre, with either a 25-pound-per-acre grain or 3- to 5-pound-per-acre annual clover.


Chicory
The least likely planted of the group, yet it’s one with characteristics making it very desirable, chicory is packed full of protein in the spring. Though it isn’t as marketed as many of the other food plot options, chicory has a huge advantage when spring fades into summer and temperatures rise.

With a large taproot, chicory is one of the most drought-tolerant food plot species. Though, like alfalfa, it is only available in perennial varieties and can provide great nutrition year after year.

Chicory doesn’t need as much cover-crop protection as alfalfa, but it isn’t a bad idea to mix some clover in with it during planting. Chicory is planted at between 3 to 5 pounds per acre with about 3 pounds per acre of clover.


With the next deer hunting season in mind, think about the food on your property available in spring. Not late summer when food plot crops should already be established. By planting any of the three mentioned – clover, alfalfa, chicory – deer on your hunting property will have another food source option in addition to native sources. Spring food plots are a good way to get bucks on the pathway to growing bigger antlers for fall.

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.

Simms

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

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.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths. Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

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.

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them. Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Don't let the fast action of November rush you into making a bad decision. Whitetail

Bowhunting: Taking the Perfect Rut Shot

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

Don't let the fast action of November rush you into making a bad decision.

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.

A shot commits you to finding the animal. Your success depends on how you read the hit and the track. Whitetail

Aim True, Track Smart: Harvest Recovery

Wayne van Zwoll - December 26, 2019

A shot commits you to finding the animal. Your success depends on how you read the hit and the...

Winter is here. Focus on these frozen food sources to improve your chances of scoring a giant buck. Whitetail

Focus on Frozen Food for Winter Deer

Bob Robb - December 27, 2019

Winter is here. Focus on these frozen food sources to improve your chances of scoring a giant...

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.