You have put forth a grand effort to attract game animals to your property, by providing a tantalizing array of food plot offerings. It’s fun but HARD work. Then – the unexpected happens. What to do? Several things this year went awry for me, and many in the past have as well. Just expect that some things will go wrong and plan ahead for it, or remedy the problems as best you can. Here are some things that could cause you problems:
Critter Damage – especially with corn or beans planted – deer, squirrels. etc. can dig up or eat up your newly planted crop. See my article Hubba Hubba for an example of this. You do two things: Plant again, and/or do something to keep it from happening again. Just think of your home garden on a bigger scale. How to Keep destructive critters away? Critters have their vision and smell to warn them of danger. So, I made a scarecrow. You can also tie shiny Mylar streamers around the perimeter of your plot until your crop takes root. You can try deer and rabbit repellents. You can hang your stinky t-shirt at the food plot so critters thing you are still there. Replace the shirt every 3 days.
My ATV and cart with snowplow in it after I used the plow driving backwards on my ATV to level the plot that got rutted with the furrow from disking.
Weed Takeover – You plant and weeds choke out your crop. They seem to come out of nowhere. This year I deep harrowed my most proven food plot and over seeded with clover. Then I was gone for a couple weeks, and when I got back, the volunteer weeds were 2-3 feet tall! The only answer was to use Roundup or Glystar herbicide type products, kill everything, including the struggling clover I planted, and start all over. I had to do this with three food plots this year that in the past I had just over seeded. I’ve tried spot treating weeds on a large scale, with mixed results.
After the herbicide - a good deep disking
Disk, harrow, plant and smooth the soil
One week later
This is what we work for-This is brassicas
Weather – is the farmer’s great challenge. If it’s too hot, the seedlings wither. If it’s too wet, the new plants drown and rot. If it’s too cold, growth will be stunted. If it’s dry and then too wet, they wither and then rot, or they might never come up at all. Torrential rains might wash shallow planted seeds away. The secret is to carefully monitor weather in the initial planting because once crops are established, they should make it through most bad weather. Plant when rain is in the forecast 2-3 days after planting. Keep the plants healthy till they are established. You can always rake the soil and over seed spots that are bare because of sun-kill, etc.
Equipment Problems – Things break or fall apart just like a vehicle does. Or, they might not perform as expected. Example: the weedy food plot mentioned above? I applied the herbicide and disked heavily, but somehow I created huge furrows and ridges that were far too big to level by hand. I have no field leveling equipment, so I ended up attaching a snow plow to the front of my ATV and going BACKWARDS around the 3/4 acre food plot to make it level. Use your imagination and be positive about solutions. One year, one of the disks broke off and had to be welded. The more complicated your equipment, the more likelihood of breakdown and more cost to repair. You can always go back to doing things by hand as a backup.
Trespassers – You can bust yourself and have everything going right on your food plots, only to have some jackabilly come traipsing around your land and booger up all your farming efforts so you never see a deer or turkey. Again, just like any other animal control, there are things you can do. Talk to your neighboring landowners if possible and let them (and their guests) know to please not trespass. Let your local Conservation Officer or Sheriff know that you do not allow trespassing and that you have talked to neighbors. POST your property NO TRESSPASSING according to what is legal in your state. Put out trail cams to catch trespassers. If you still have problems, there are other off-the-record but legal and non-confrontational ways to dissuade trespassers. Email me and I can share them with you.
Farming if rife with things that can go wrong and which will always be totally out of your control. The secret to keeping optimistic, is the anticipate that things WILL go wrong, and be armed with the knowledge to either fix them yourself, get help from friends or hire someone who can help you.
The ultimate pleasure when all is said and done, is being camo’d up and sitting in your stand during hunting season, looking out at a lush food plot you and God created and which is being happily grazed by the critters you intend to harvest.
From disaster to success- food plots pay off
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