Every spring begins the same as the last with each hunter starting their search of how to harvest that trophy buck in the upcoming season. One avenue to accomplish this task that has swept across the country in the past several years is the installation of food plots. Whether an advanced food plotter or just starting out with a first food plot, every food plot begins with picking which seed blend to plant for the season. Most whitetail hunters are very used to hunting over soybeans, corn, and other agricultural crops. However, there is a way to take that agricultural plot, and boost its performance for you this season.
Typically when you have decided that you want to install soybeans for a food source you must first answer the question of if you want the soybean to be round-up ready or not. Well in order to achieve the goal I am about to share with you I highly suggest picking up round-up ready soybeans. Though the cost on these beans is higher than its non-herbicide tolerant predecessor, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. When you pick the herbicide tolerant strain of the soybean you are now able to control weed growth in between the rows of your beans which will not only allow for the beans to grow better, but will also open the window for you to do a late summer/early fall turnip/radish/brassica overseeding. Knowing the time-frame of the initial planting, the herbicide application, and the broadcast seeding is crucial in having success with this method.
Now the first step that any land manager, food plot guru, or plothead will tell you is that you must ensure that the beans can start their growth with proper nutrients. To achieve this we highly recommend obtaining a soil sample prior to planting, and applying the correct formula and quantity of fertilizer designated by your soil analysis results. If you do not have time to get a sample (which once again we highly recommend you get before any planting), we suggest utilizing a "starter" fertilizer to help begin your soybeans at a rate of approximately 200-300 pounds/acre. This fertilizer typically is high in phosphorus and potassium which are essential for early plant growth. Also, before you get worried or concerned, there is nitrogen in this fertilizer mixture, but at lower amounts than you are most likely familiar with. Due to this you may need to apply nitrogen (urea) later in the season, which we still would recommend doing as it will help give a boost to the vegetative growth on your radishes and turnips. Now that your field is fertilized we can move on to the planting your soybeans.
In the upper Midwest we shoot for a goal of planting our beans around May 1st depending on weather, soil moisture content, and frost in the ground which could cause an earlier or later planting. For planting we try to establish a row structure planting of approximately 15 inches between rows, but many can achieve success with a simple broadcast of the seed. If you do choose to broadcast versus drill in your beans we recommend either dragging them in or utilizing a cultipacker to provide a proper seed bed and soil cover. One observation we have noticed is that beans DO NOT like over compaction so try to keep that in mind when you are planting and which type of equipment you choose. Once planted we essentially start letting the beans do their work.
As your beans are growing you must start monitoring weed growth for your herbicide application. In order to achieve a successful planting of brassica family plants we spray our s
oybean plots to reduce and/or remove the competition of weeds that may have sprouted up in your bean field. As the soybeans are growing we monitor both their height and the weed height very closely. One major mistake many plotters make is that they only watch the plant height, and not the weed height. If weeds are very young, but your beans are getting high you will still may need to wait to ensure you get the best "bang for your buck" when spraying. Typically weed height for spraying is optimum right before the soybeans are creating their "canopy". This short time frame is the perfect time to spray since the treated weeds will begin dying back, and the soybeans will have developed a full shade canopy before any secondary growth of weeds can occur. With that said you soybeans are well on their way to making a great deal of tonnage for your deer herd.
It's been months now past since you put the first soybean seed into the ground. Your deer have
been enjoying a high protein food source which has help provide lactating does with adequate milk, fawns with protein to grow in healthy deer, and of course your bucks with some of the essential tools to grow their antlers. The month now is July, and it is time to start getting ready to "extend' your food growth cycle with the broadcast seeding of some of the brassica family plants. You may look at your bean field and think to yourself, "These seeds will never take off with that canopy of leaves!". Well I am here to tell you that those little tiny seeds WILL take off. When selecting your brassica seeds we recommend choosing a variety of plants. Some of our go to plant types are daikon radishes, purple top turnips, winfred brassica, and dwarf siberian kale. If you were to plant these species over a field you typically would use a rate of approximately 3-5 pounds per acre, but since there are already plants present (your soybeans) we suggest knocking that rate back to about 1-3 pounds per acre. Reducing your rate will take into consideration plant competition, nutrient availability, and will also help create larger plants where they can get established.
Well now you have the idea and hopefully a better understanding of how you can improve those soybean stands on your property. Also, don't be scared to utilize this same method with corn fields (as seen in the photo to left) as we have seen excellent results there as well.
Using this double whammy combo will help to extend the life of these fields from a four to five month field into an eight to ten month food source! Good luck plotting this season, and enjoy The Dyamic Duo!
If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.creekbottomlandmgmt.com. We also would love to see your photos of successful Dynamic Duo food plots or any other food plots you install this season. Please send any photos of the food plots you have worked on, and we will display them on our website and Facebook pages.