Welcome to TheOhioOutdoors
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Login or sign up today!
Login / Join

Ideas/tips/recommendations for Food Plots in a drought

Stressless

Active Member
825
44
Keene, OH
This is a thread for past performance on tips, techniques and ideas to rescue/recover a plot that gets hit by a drought as the season nears and it's crunch time. It appears that for the second season in a row - Sep in TOO is in a hard drought.

I'll start as I'm kinda new to the plotting stuff: I have to plan ahead for my trips to the farm and can't make "planting dates" specific to rain events. Below is a summery of Sep and Oct and planting dates in the dang drought.

Sep and Oct 2020 Red crosshatch are planting dates from 2020
sep20-001.JPG



1631724733738.png



The current forecast in Sep '21 is just as bad... no rain thru the 10 day forecast....

Sep 2021 Red crosshatch is planting date

1631717260408.png


Looking for your thoughts on how/what you've done and the results as the hunting season nears - none of us want to take dirt into the fall hunt.

Last year, 2020, at the beginning of the drought I planted as shown on 10 Sep, 200# of rye on bare dirt and 100# rye over seeded into the legume plots.

dead plot - burnt off right before 200#/acre or Rye and a couple days after the last rain in Sep 10 ish Sep 2020.
20200915_140704.jpg


The same bare dirt plot after zero rain for 21 days...
9800.jpeg


Due to the low germination caused by the lack of moisture I added another 200#/acre of rye 10 ish Oct and this is after a rain to two between 12 Oct and 22 Oct when this pic was taken
20201022_134802[1].jpg


cooler WX and a couple rains had the plot filled in for peak rut - 9 Nov.
1631723729068.png


and in Jan '21 after snow and more rain. The deer had it eaten to chin high by then
20210104_113221.jpg



For 2021 I have tried to get in front of this issue with an Aug planting of Oats and winter peas - which worked in 3 of 5 plots I tried it in but I didn't get a good catch on 2 plots.

I have zero experience with brassica and how they tolerate drought - mine are 6# tillage radish and 3# brassica / acre as we enter the second drought in a row....
 
  • Like
Reactions: Big_Holla

at1010

*Supporting Member*
3,936
103
We cannot control when it rains, but we can control methods to help prevent evaporation and water capture via better water infiltration - through well-aggregated soils.

Rye grain on bare dirt is a crow/turkey best friend. That seed is just sitting there waiting to be predated on. Thatch cover is your friend!

Try spraying with GLY
Seed directly into the thatch

Why does this work -
1. We are reducing the surface temperature of the soil - by allowing the soil to be shaded
What does that do?
1. This allows us to capture more morning dews
2. Slows evaporation (from dew or rain)
3. Slows rain drops down, vs. hitting bare dirt - reducing compaction and runoff likelihood.
4. protects seed from predation
5. offers weed suppression
6. breaks down over time adding nutrients to your soil

Adding brassicas will only help this to become more diverse and better advantage of the fungal networks that are established in the soil, which also can allow the plants to take advantage of one drought tolerances vs. another's intolerances.

Lastly - checking base saturations of soil to show that your CA, MG, K are balanced in order to help ensure you have enough calcium for good cell wall structure in plants, no imbalance of MG (creating tight soils), and enough K to help plants optimize photosynthesis - all these together also help the uptake of N and P - which phosphorus is also useful in water movement in the plant (often not needed to be added, but needs microbes to make active, the thatch helps with this over time).

Hope this is useful.

AT.
 

bowhunter1023

Administrator
Staff member
45,655
249
Appalachia
You can only control what you can control, so I don't waste my time preparing for something that's both outside my control, and may or may not happen. The best way to prepare is to go with the no-till method for all the reasons Al just explained. IMO, if you're on your game, you should be ready to plant from 7/15 to 9/15 and if you miss that window, it's on you, not Mother Nature.
 

Stressless

Active Member
825
44
Keene, OH
Thx @at1010

@bowhunter1023 - yup - I smell what you're stepping in.

But planning for environmental variables beyond your control is actually a key function of contingency planning, as we say, the enemy gets a vote - :confused:

Some of the things I've done, mainly because I'm kinda new to plotting, and I KNOW I don't know how things will turn out is divide my plots, I tried Buckwheat and it was a failure - in my mind, because it got browsed too heavily. Some folks want to attract summertime deer - they would consider it a win.

Last year I didn't have a Aug planting and was reliant on a single planting - rye in Sep and I got sideways from the drought. I learned and this year planted Oats and Peas in Aug and have 'some' browse in the plots as the Sep rye planting "might" catch in this early stage of the drought - and might not.

The second planting of rye last year did well in late Oct and Nov and then got smashed - ate chin high in Dec, so again, I tied to move it around and get some brassicas into play. I've been keeping up with @at1010 's Soil blog and have plans to up a couple plots into soil building some based prolly based on Dr. Woods release system. My problem with Woods system is he has 33 acre food plots to work with, i.e., simulated prairie - whereas my plots at the widest (N/S) are about 80' and from what I've seen don't last into the winter or provide early spring forage - two elements I'm trying to check.

The intent on this is to have folks relate what they tried and how it turned out - i.e., experimentation and outcomes. I consider the pre-planning process for IF a drought happens to be a key enabler, just as much as what actions to take WHEN a drought happens....
 
  • Like
Reactions: Big_Holla

bowhunter1023

Administrator
Staff member
45,655
249
Appalachia
Rent a water truck. Or have the co-op spray it with good old H20. I've seen guys use their ATV sprayers to do the same. I've also seen guys bring in generators, pumps, and sprinklers. But that sounds like $ and time most don't have.

Real talk here. I've been planting plots since 2004. I've never killed a mature buck solely because of a plot. Deer eat 200+ varieties of browse. You don't NEED food plots to be successful. Taking an L on the year every so often isn't the worst thing in the world. I understand your intent here, but for the vast majority of us, simply getting seed down is an act of congress some years. Adding the stress of reversing Mother Nature's course only compounds the issue and IMO, could cause more harm than good if you're in there right now taking drastic measures like I mentioned above. Obviously, I have a much different take on this than you, but it doesn't mean either of us are right/wrong. Lots of ways to skin a cat.
 
  • Like
Reactions: giles and tracker 6

Stressless

Active Member
825
44
Keene, OH
Gotcha - I'll reply and step-out. I'm trying to do what a I think a lot of folks are doing, trying to keep some bucks from getting shot when I'm not there, as much as being able to see some nice ones every so often when I am there. The outfitter that bracketed our co-op brings an available buck tag to every stand, every day of the season.

Ibid; I step foot on my land about 7- 8 times year at most. In those touch points I want to optimize the land for the outcomes I desire. I do what I can within $ and Time. I don't think we're actually that far apart - one of the things I am doing is trying to learn from folks that have lived and done this, "Real Talk Here..." while I've been away. Your advice and opinion are heard, for the folks that get an act of congress passed and get some seed down - my intent is to try and optimize the information for them to get the best results possible. I'm not renting a water truck for a food plot - I read where guys have dug wells for plots... for me that's insane waste of resources - for some measuring herbicide, acreage, fertilizer and/or seed weight is insane.

I found this site doing a search for IMOX and results that Cspot posted were the best that showed up. Folks that Can't Don't Shouldn't or Won't do a food plot I'm thinking aren't going to follow or read this - but that's not what this is about.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Big_Holla

at1010

*Supporting Member*
3,936
103
interesting thread.

It seems we are comparing two things:
1. Drought tolerance/stress tolerance of plant species
2. Plotting strategies, and how that overlaps with hunting and management techniques.

Although these seem similar on the surface, they are quite different. Let's break this down.

Drought tolerance and stress tolerance of plants is directly correlated to the health of the plant and the surrounding soil structure in the plant are established. John Kempf recently did a webinar with a PHD specifically talking about the ability for really healthy plants to protect themselves against insects, as well as numerous other stresses - as I described above. As for drought/planting times - use no-till methods, and plant Mid July - Mid August- those are traditionally our best windows for rain in Ohio, in my experience. Sept can be a very dry month.

Now the other item here is big buck hunting strategies, as well as some mgt/browse pressure. Here (in my opinion) is where we are getting off track. In Ohio, as long as baiting is allowed, food plots will be secondary for "holding deer". I will leave it at that.

Now, the bigger issue I see here is to browse pressure. Your plots are not failing due to plant stressors and/or drought. Your plots are failing because you don't have enough food for the number of deer in the area. This is where exclusion fences are useful.

We can either shoot more does plant more food or both- those are the three options.

Lastly - add as much diversity to your plots as you can. Mix rye, oats, clover, brassicas. This way if the rye gets torn up, the clover can keep growing- etc. Monocultures are not good for the soil or for deer, especially in a small food plot. By having diversity, we can attract deer through different times of year.
 

tracker 6

Junior Member
548
58
In a thicket
interesting thread.

It seems we are comparing two things:
1. Drought tolerance/stress tolerance of plant species
2. Plotting strategies, and how that overlaps with hunting and management techniques.

Although these seem similar on the surface, they are quite different. Let's break this down.

Drought tolerance and stress tolerance of plants is directly correlated to the health of the plant and the surrounding soil structure in the plant are established. John Kempf recently did a webinar with a PHD specifically talking about the ability for really healthy plants to protect themselves against insects, as well as numerous other stresses - as I described above. As for drought/planting times - use no-till methods, and plant Mid July - Mid August- those are traditionally our best windows for rain in Ohio, in my experience. Sept can be a very dry month.

Now the other item here is big buck hunting strategies, as well as some mgt/browse pressure. Here (in my opinion) is where we are getting off track. In Ohio, as long as baiting is allowed, food plots will be secondary for "holding deer". I will leave it at that.

Now, the bigger issue I see here is to browse pressure. Your plots are not failing due to plant stressors and/or drought. Your plots are failing because you don't have enough food for the number of deer in the area. This is where exclusion fences are useful.

We can either shoot more does plant more food or both- those are the three options.

Lastly - add as much diversity to your plots as you can. Mix rye, oats, clover, brassicas. This way if the rye gets torn up, the clover can keep growing- etc. Monocultures are not good for the soil or for deer, especially in a small food plot. By having diversity, we can attract deer through different times of year.
This is an OUTSTANDING post .
 

bowhunter1023

Administrator
Staff member
45,655
249
Appalachia
You can always rely on @at1010 to come in strong with the science and reason. Fantastic post chalked full of the info @Stressless was looking to garner. Thanks for weighing in buddy. I know you work hard to gather that knowledge and I appreciate you sharing it here.

To your point, we've definitely wondered off into the proverbial weeds. I'll own that and offer my apologies for being the cause of that. Now, that said, I stand by my comments in relation to point #2 from Al's post. That can be parsed out into another thread and I'm happy to elaborate further. What I'll offer here in closing is this: The best piece of advice I've ever been given, is "the path to success is paved with clear expectations". If anyone cares to continue that conversation as it relates to planting food plots...

Val-Kilmer.jpg
 

at1010

*Supporting Member*
3,936
103
I will post this in my thread - no-till food plotting or whatever I named it, but I thought it was relevant to share here as well.

Here is one of several plots on the farm this year. I plant around 20 acres a year (10 acres 2X, maybe more). However, if I only had the time to plant once a year, this would be my go-to method.

1. Spray GLY
2. Go back to the house, eat some lunch, let GLY dry.
3. Seed into the standing green veg.
4. Wait/pray for rain
5. Optional - this particular plot I bush-hogged off the next day to see if I noticed any major difference between mowing off the sprayed thatch vs. just letting it fall. So far, I am not sold on needing to bush hog it off, but it sure is fun to run the bug hog!

I make very complex mixes because I like the soil science behind it all. However, if I could just recommend a solid mix it would be as follows.
1. Rye grain
2. Oats
3. turnip
4. rape
5. radish
6. medium red clover
7. crimson clover

This mix, planted in this way, will feed deer all year. And no, you don't need to separate your brassicas and grains - you do need to ensure that you are seeding the correct % per acre. Merit Seed or any other reputable seed mill will be able to assist you with fine-tuning the lbs per acre.

As always hope this helps.

Image-1.jpg
 

giles

Village idiot and local whore
Supporting Member
34,414
190
In a bar
Great topic! I have no dog in this fight but my outside view sees something. Why not focus planting by a water source? Add that with the diversity AL speaks of and you are good to go.

I also can't help but think of Stress capturing all that rain water hurting thing like this for people down the way.
 
  • Wow
Reactions: Stressless
IMO the more you can do to give deer (bucks in particular) a reason to frequent your property during the daylight hours the better your odds are of having them survive longer. Having adequate cover, food and water are the 3 main things that deer need to survive. I like the idea of having multiple smaller food plots, mock scrapes, does, LOW PRESSURE, etc. will allow that buck(s) to spend more time on your place during those daylight hours. Hopefully allowing them to avoid being killed on those neighboring properties. Hopefully they are the last to show up at those bait sites, perhaps right at quitting time when the hunter alerts them to their presence. Now, do they wander? Sure, cannot stop that once does are bred or they run into a real badass that sends them kicking rocks. We have prided ourselves as being low pressure for years and to have bucks reach maturity and some 8 1/2 to 11 1/2 years old either shows that it is possible to provide a place they want to spend more time or we just suck that bad at hunting LOL.
 

Stressless

Active Member
825
44
Keene, OH
@at1010

I will post this in my thread - no-till food plotting or whatever I named it, but I thought it was relevant to share here as well.

Here is one of several plots on the farm this year. I plant around 20 acres a year (10 acres 2X, maybe more). However, if I only had the time to plant once a year, this would be my go-to method.

1. Spray GLY
2. Go back to the house, eat some lunch, let GLY dry.
3. Seed into the standing green veg.
4. Wait/pray for rain
5. Optional - this particular plot I bush-hogged off the next day to see if I noticed any major difference between mowing off the sprayed thatch vs. just letting it fall. So far, I am not sold on needing to bush hog it off, but it sure is fun to run the bug hog!

I make very complex mixes because I like the soil science behind it all. However, if I could just recommend a solid mix it would be as follows.
1. Rye grain
2. Oats
3. turnip
4. rape
5. radish
6. medium red clover
7. crimson clover

This mix, planted in this way, will feed deer all year. And no, you don't need to separate your brassicas and grains - you do need to ensure that you are seeding the correct % per acre. Merit Seed or any other reputable seed mill will be able to assist you with fine-tuning the lbs per acre.

As always hope this helps.

View attachment 135509

Great stuff and thx for sharing. What time of year would you Gly and then plant this mix? When would (or would you) ? terminate this mix for the planting in 2022 or do you overseed into it?
 

at1010

*Supporting Member*
3,936
103
@at1010



Great stuff and thx for sharing. What time of year would you Gly and then plant this mix? When would (or would you) ? terminate this mix for the planting in 2022 or do you overseed into it?

I don’t want any (or reduced as much as possible) fallow time. I spray and plant same day. I plant between July 15th and August 15th - Typically.

I don’t terminate the mix until the following year so in fall of 2022. Id spray in July or August and plant, sir.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stressless