How to start a Food Plot: Everything you need to know

Midwest Whitetail • June 06, 2023

Thinking towards fall and the food plots that will be set up later in the summer, here are five important things if you’re putting in a food plot!

 Selecting a Location

There are a lot of variables that go into this, starting with whether you own your land or you’re using a permission farm. When you own land, you can put your food plot wherever you want although topography does play into that. If you look at the permission farm, you may only have a small area the farmer gives you for installing your food plot. Based on those areas you'd want to select a seed that's good, whether it's for low ground that stays wet, or for high ground that's dry and well drained.

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Selecting a Seed Variety

There are many seed options for a fall food plot. Clover is an option that's more of a full-year food plot but it's still a good active source during the fall for a hunting plot. Other options include brassicas, oats, winter wheat, and rye which can all be used in different areas.

Obtain a Soil Sample

Once you identify where you want to plant and what to plant, then you want to look at obtaining a soil sample so you can prepare your ground for your crop. That soil sample will reveal which nutrients are deficit and what the pH level is. To prepare, you may need to raise the pH of the soil with lime or add nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. On fertilizer bags that's what those numbers stand for. The first number is nitrogen, the middle one's phosphorus, and the last one is potassium. All of that will help condition your soil to be the best for your desired planting.

Choose a Planting Method

There are three general methods for planting your food plot. First, there’s the “Poor Man’s Plot,” which is simply an unflattering nickname for doing everything by hand. The second method is to till your plot. The third is to drill your plot. The poor man’s plot method is a great option for people who don't have access to equipment. It entails manually raking the ground and spraying by hand. It still works. There are times when you may not be able to get equipment on the plot because the corn is up. In those situations, a poor man's plot works perfectly well.

Tilling a plot might be the most common method around the different parts of the country. Whether you're a farmer, or whether you have garden in your backyard, you may have some type of tiller to rough up the ground. Tilling does work well but also has some downsides, such as losing moisture in your soil by disturbing it. Also, you may disturb the weed bed and have more competition for your seed.

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Drilling food plot seed has the highest chance of success

The option with the highest chance of success (and usually the highest cost) is to drill your seed. It allows you to plant seeds at the right depth while causing minimal disturbance to the soil. Drilling is far more precise and controlled than using a seed sprayer. The odds are in your favor for creating a great food plot.

Enjoy the Rewards

You might be surprised by what we consider to be the number one or most important factor for food plot success. A lot of people probably don't think about it. For Midwest Whitetail, it’s to enjoy the rewards of your hard work. A ton of effort is put into planting food, whether it's to till a plot or whether it's for herd nutrition. It's really one of the most important things for a food plotter to look at hard work and relish the results. A good feeling at the end of the day, especially if you get to harvest a buck or doe with your food plot each year. This makes it all worth it.

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Hopefully, these tips help you out -- good luck hunting this fall!

--Midwest Whitetail