Why Food Plots Fail | Mistakes to Avoid

This is the time of year when your focus should be turned to improving your land for the fall when deer season arrives. For many hunters, this means planting food plots. Unfortunately, many land managers are surely disappointed when they find their hard work of establishing and maintaining a food plot was for naught. There are many reasons why food plots fail, and the most common are listed below. They are in no particular order because all four cause inadequate forage production.

Improper Lime and Fertilization: No matter what you want planted, the correct amount of lime and fertilization should be applied to the soils. Just picking up a few bags of random fertilizer and a couple bags of lime at the local hardware store isn’t going to do the trick. In order to ensure you are ahead of the curve on this, a soil test may need to be done, even on established food plots.

Economy-Priced Seed Blends: This mistake can be summed up by the simple expression You Reap What You Sew! If you are looking at buying the cheapest bag of food plot seed on the shelf, you can expect not-so-great results. While some food plot blends can be incredibly expensive, you need not break the bank in order to find a great forage that will do the trick on your property. When you consider the amount of time and effort, along with the costs of fuel for your tractor, ATV and driving to your hunting land, the cost of food plot seeds are typically the cheapest component of a food plot.

Wrong Seed Blends: In this instance, you could purchase a very well-known and successful forage, have it planted on your property and still produce mediocre results. In this case the problem is usually because the seeds purchased are not made for where you have them planted. For example, some forages such as sugar beets need a hard frost before they become appealing to whitetails. The cold weather causes chemical reactions in the plant and makes them taste better and digest much more easily. There’s only one problem, there is a pretty good chance that eastern NC may not be blessed with a hard frost necessary for the plant to become appealing before the end of hunting season. It eventually will benefit the deer, but it may not assist you in tagging anything. This is a prime example of thoroughly understanding what you’re planting.

Deer Density: This mistake does not deal with the implementation of a food plot. Rather it deals with deer harvests, or lack thereof, that will have an impact on your food plots. You cannot expect to only harvest bucks while planting forages specifically designed to attract whitetails, and then be surprised when the improperly managed herd decimates your plots. Only a limited number of people can eat at one table. The same concept applies to deer herds.  A density too high will result in a food plot that is over-grazed as soon as the seedlings sprout. This obviously won’t produce what you want, resulting in a picked-over, barren piece of dirt when hunting season rolls around. Unfortunately, this problem can only be fixed during the actual hunting season. If you have a tough time establishing food plots due to over-grazing, take a few extra does this fall and take notice of how your summer plots slowly being improving.

If you are looking for assistance in managing or searching for hunting property to call your own, please contact Andrew Walters.