Clover is an important addition to a wildlife food plot. It is nutritious and sought after by deer, rabbits and other animals. Once a strand of clover is established, it can last for several years before being overtaken by grasses or other plant growth. There are several clover varieties of clover seed available for planting to attract wildlife, but varieties of white clover are usually preferred for wildlife plots because of its ability to bounce back from heavy grazing pressure.
Contact your local County Agricultural Extension Office to find out the best variety of clover to grow in your area for wildlife forage. Also, the Extension Office can assist you with taking a soil test to find out the necessary amendments you need to add to create the best conditions for growing clover. For example, lime is often added to acidic soils for optimal clover production.
Clear the area for the wildlife plot in the fall in areas where the ground does not freeze in the winter. In areas where the ground freezes, prepare the plot as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Remove weeds and plant growth that can compete with the clover plot.
Pulverize the soil to a depth of 6 inches by using a shovel, hoe or tiller. Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost over the area along with the soil amendments recommended on the soil test. Work the compost and amendments into the top 6 inches of the soil and level out the planting area with a rake. Do not pack the soil down because you want the clover seed to have good contact with the soil.
Put the clover seed in a bucket and mix with the inoculant, which is a bacteria that helps the clover's roots pull nitrogen from the air and store it in its roots. It is usually available where the clover seed is purchased and is called clover inoculum or inoculant. Occasionally, the clover seed is pre-inoculated and you can skip this step. It will tell you on the seed tag or package label if the seed is pre-inoculated. If the inoculant is a powder, pour the amount suggested on the package instructions over the seed and mix well. If it is a liquid, pour the required amount over the seeds and then spread the seeds out in a single layer on a dry newspaper or other surface outside of direct sun until dry. The seed is ready to spread once the inoculant is dry on the seed surface.
Mix the inoculated clover seed with dry soil in a bucket at the rate of 1 part seed to 2 parts soil. This is so the seed is covered with a light layer of soil after it is spread and is easier to broadcast evenly.
Walk over the prepared planting area throwing, or broadcasting, the seed over the top of the soil as you go. Spread as evenly as possible, walking back and forth over the prepared area.
Once the seed is evenly dispersed, sprinkle the area with water until the soil is damp. Otherwise, no more care is needed as the clover should grow and produce without assistance unless there is an extended period of drought. If that is the case, supplemental watering will be needed.