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Weed Control and Plot Maintenance

It’s inevitable that some unwanted weeds and grasses are going to find their way into your food plot.  Instead of driving yourself crazy trying to eliminate every single one, use these strategies to minimize their impact and maximize your plot’s health.

Preserve Organic Material

It’s a careful balance between eliminating weeds and preserving the health of your food plot.  While it’s tempting to remove everything and turn over the ground with disc harrows or a rotary tiller, this can do more harm than good.  First, green plants break down much faster than dead and dried plant material. This helps maintain more nutrients in the soil.  Also, green plants contain much more moisture and will help preserve those levels in your food plot.

Strategically Work the Soil

Weed seeds are hiding all over the place, and can lay dormant for decades.  Sometimes amending or working your soil can increase the presence of weeds, as introducing fertilizer and other enhancements may give them the resources they need to thrive.  Further, remnants left on your tractor attachments can spread weeds to unwanted areas.

One suggestion to counteract this is to work the soil and let any native seeds grow back. 

Then, spray them all with a broad herbicide to eliminate the majority of weeds that were lying in wait. Once this is done, plant your crops without working the land again and you will drastically reduce the presence of weeds.

Spray Instead of Mowing

There is some debate over if mowing or spraying your food plot is better for controlling weeds.  Mowing will help cut back weeds initially, but in the long run many of them will survive and grow back stronger than before. In many cases, using selective herbicides will be much more productive.  Certain chemicals can target broadleaf weeds and grasses specifically while leaving crops that are desirable to deer and other animals unharmed. 

Take a Summer Off

Though a less-than-ideal option, when things get really out of hand it might be time to take the summer off and get a clean slate.  This break can allow you to understand what sort of weeds are causing the biggest problems and target them aggressively.  If skipping a season isn’t feasible, be more selective in the plants you grow. For example, broadleaf plants like clover – a diet staple for deer – can be effective in controlling invasive grasses.

Food Plot Maintenance Tips

With effective strategies for weed control, you can set your sights on making your food plot more productive than ever.  Here are a few maintenance tips to help you take things to the next level.

Time Your Planting

The timing of your planting is essential to the success of the crops.  Many foot plot crops are limited to production in spring or fall and require the necessary time to germinate and develop.  If you start planting seeds too late or too early and the conditions aren’t right, you might miss out on an entire season of growth.

Test Your Soil

From hobby farmers to landowners growing and harvesting hay, anyone will tell you that understanding your soil is critical.  Testing for details like the soil’s nutrients and pH levels help you know exactly what can and can’t grow on your property.  Additionally, a soil test gives you the information you need to make adjustments that will lead to long-term success.

Make the Plot Feel Secure

Ideally your food plot will blend into the natural landscape and make animals feel at ease.  To attract deer, the most beneficial shape is a long, thin plot next to trees or thickets.  This will give deer a sense of security and make them more comfortable visiting in the daytime.  Whenever possible, avoid putting your food plot near roads or neighbors that can cause noisy disturbances.

Limit Human Traffic

Outside of essential maintenance, it’s best to leave your food plot alone unless you’re hunting.  The key to making it a desirable location for animals is making it feel safe, and the regular presence of humans will only scare them away.

If you need any further help or have any questions about service, tractors, implements, or anything else equipment-related, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944.  Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.

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