10-12 years ago I was food plotting my remote wilderness property in the UP of MI quite heavily. The primary focus on the property was to offer the most food to the local deer population, for the longest amount of time, while at the same time completing the activities in an orderly rotational basis. The following is a description of a four season food plot planting design that you may find appropriate to incorporate into your property management activities. This design was fine-tuned over a period of several years and became a vital component in the continuing management of the food plot program. The purpose of this design was simple: To establish a perennial base within a cool season annual, with a planting date aimed at offering the most food for each month of the year with an emphasis on the most critical months, with soil or plot disturbance taking place during the least critical months of the year. With a one year food plot planting, you should expect to experience the effective use of annual seed blends throughout the hunting season and winter months, followed by the remaining benefits of the established perennial base for the months of spring through early fall.
The Establishment of a Food Plot:
Of course, to experience the benefits of this food plot strategy or any other planting strategy your plot must first be ready to plant. Your food plot is ready to plant when potential weed problems and ph levels have been corrected, and you have used the results from a soil test to make a proper determination of what type and what amounts of fertilizer need to be applied to your plot.
Late summer is the perfect time to establish a four season plot. The plot area can be designed in the spring, limed, and sprayed multiple times to effectively control any potential weed problems by the necessary planting date. In my area, late summer is one of the most abundant times in the woods for total food and forage for the local deer herd, and it is at this time you are ready to start a four season plot strategy.
The four-season planting begins with one of the systems most important ingredients, the seed. A combination of annual rye, oats, brassica and clover has been my most successful combination and each seed provides a specifically targeted goal. The time to plant is determined by the appropriate time to plant brassica, rye and oats in your area, for example, from mid to late August in northern MI where I live, to early September from PA to WI.
A four season seed variety of annual rye, oats, brassica and clover is easy to establish and success is high when broadcasted into a well prepared seed bed. The use of a cultipaker or drag of some kind, including a spring-toothed harrow, chain-link fencing, pallet, or even the sideways use of an ATV ramp can be more than adequate. Broadcasting just before an approaching rainstorm or damp period will virtually gaurentee success.