How to Plant Food Plots

Overview

A properly planned food plot will attract wildlife to your land, offering a supplemental food source and nesting and brood cover. Food plots may be planted with one or more of the following: corn, sorghum, wheat, rye oats, clover, soybeans, buckwheat, sunflowers or alfalfa. The plants selected should be suitable for the growing conditions in your area and provide what wildlife can not readily get from the existing habitat. Plant the food plot near wildlife travel lanes, Purdue University recommends.

Step 1

Determine your food plot goals, which will help you decide what to plant. Consider what is growing in the surrounding area. If acres of corn surround you, then a corn food plot would do little to attract wildlife to your property. If, on the other hand, there is no corn in the area, a corn food plot may be a good choice. Corn typically attracts deer, pheasants, quail, wild turkey and squirrels.

Step 2

Decide on the size of the plot; it should be at least 1,000 square feet. Ohio State University recommends making a food plot of a quarter to half an acre for every 20 acres you own.

Step 3

Get a soil test to find out what nutrients may be needed before planting. Till the soil and amend it as needed based on test results and the nutrient needs of your selected crop. For corn, for example, amend the soil as needed to obtain a pH level between 6 and 6.5.

Step 4

Plant the crop in time for it to reach maturity before winter sets in. Set the grain drill or the corn planter to plant seeds at a reduced rate compared to what would be sown for agricultural purposes. For example, plant corn at 4 to 15 pounds per acre rather than 20 pounds. This allows the food plot to offer nesting cover and insect foraging opportunities for ground-nesting birds such as pheasant and quail.

Step 5

Consider allowing a food plot to remain undisturbed for three to four years. If you have three food plots, for example, replant one per year to offer fresh forage for deer and let the others remain standing to provide cover and insect habitat for smaller species of wildlife.

Things You'll Need

  • Tractor
  • Disk
  • Fertilizer (as needed)
  • Seed
  • Equipment for seeding (varies depending on what you plant)

References

  • Purdue University: Food Plots for White Tailed Deer
  • Ohio State University: Establishing Wildlife Food Plots
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension: Cool Season Food Plots for Deer

Who Can Help

  • University of Tennessee: Growing and Managing Successful Food Plots
Keywords: plant food plot, food plot planning, wildlife food plot

About this Author

Ann Wolters, who has been a freelance writer, consultant, and writing coach for the past year and a half, has had her writing published in "The Saint Paul Almanac," and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a master’s degree in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota and taught English as a foreign language for nearly seven years.