Wildlife Habitat & Food Plots Planting Guide

Wildlife food plot sites are generally small clearings in wooded areas or farmland. Planting dates differ between annual and perennial mixes; however, most are designed for spring or fall planting. Examples include woodland openings, remote areas of large residential lots, abandoned fields or timber harvest and loading areas.

HABITAT

Well-drained or moderately well-drained sites in woodland openings (ideally near water sources); typically in full sun for at least half the day; upland species may be planted.

FERTILITY

Check your soil pH and fertility; the addition of lime can improve the nutritional value of vegetation beneficial for wildlife. If a soil test has not been obtained, a starter fertilizer, such as 200 lb per acre of 16-16-16, should be applied. If uncertain about soil pH, add 1,000-2,000 lb of lime per acre. This will provide plants with essential nutrients without pushing a lot of top growth. Lime and fertilizer may be incorporated into the soil using a tiller. After amendments are incorporated, smooth out the soil to develop a good seedbed. If broadcasting the seed, run a spring-tooth harrow or ATV over the site to incorporate the seed into the soil 1/4”-1/2” deep.

SEEDING METHOD

Hand seed, broadcast seed or drill seed.

SITE PREPARATION

If your site was previously a lawn or crop field to which herbicides were applied, it is important that you allow the appropriate interval for the residues of those herbicides to break down prior to planting. Some herbicide residues can prevent seedling germination.

Eradicate existing vegetation by having a licensed spray technician apply an approved herbicide, such as glyphosate (Roundup® or Rodeo®), or tilling the weeds into the soil. Hand pull or spot spray problem weeds. Perennial weeds not addressed before establishment will be difficult to remove later. Good pre-seeding weed control may require repeated tilling or spraying two applications of glyphosate at least two weeks apart.

GROWING SEASON MAINTENANCE

General Maintenance

It may be necessary to mow some mixes to a height of 4”-6” in order to help keep plants young and tender. Annual food plot mixes must be planted every year.

ERNMX-184 Fall Sweets Mix and ERNMX-133-1 Big Buck Mix.
Eastern wild turkey gobbling.
A rutting whitetail buck.
Ringneck pheasant rooster in mix of grasses and forbs.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this review of practices is the result of over 50 years of experience in seed production. Ernst Conservation Seeds has been supplying seeds and consulting in the reseeding of tens of thousands of acres of roadsides, surface-mined lands, conservation and restoration sites in eastern North America, as well as growing and supplying seed and consulting in the planting of hundreds of thousands of acres of CRP/CREP-related areas for erosion control and wildlife habitat. All of these practices are opinion only and our best advice as a result of these experiences. These recommendations do not cover all of the conditions that will be encountered in the field. All of the information is for individual consideration. Ernst Conservation Seeds is not responsible for conditions that will be encountered in individual situations. The use of brand names does not represent our endorsement of a specific product; rather, it represents our experience only and has not necessarily been replicated in peer-reviewed research. The use of chemical pest control agents is subject to manufacturers’ instructions and labeling, as well as federal, state and local regulations.

Wildlife Habitat & Food Plots Seed Mixes

The following mixes provide food for deer, turkey and other upland game birds.

Wildlife Food Plot Mix

Item #: ERNMX-130 Cost: $0.74/lb
Categories:
Description: Dwarf Sorghum/Red Milo is attractive to mourning doves in the fall. It stands upright in snow and makes emergency food during the winter for turkey, pheasants and deer. White Proso Millet and Black Oil Sunflower are extremely popular and effective for all birds. Buckwheat is extremely popular with ()

Keystone Deer & Turkey Habitat Mix

Item #: ERNMX-133 Cost: $3.51/lb
Categories:
Description: These popular wildlife food plot, non-native grasses and legumes attract deer and turkey year-round. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will ()

Keystone Big Buck Mix

Item #: ERNMX-133-1 Cost: $3.79/lb
Categories:
Description: The non-native legumes and forbs attract deer year-round. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Honey Bee Forage Mix

Item #: ERNMX-157 Cost: $3.18/lb
Categories: ,
Description: A pasture mix for honey bees composed of clovers and sweetclovers. Mix forumulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Waterfowl Buffet Mix for Wetland Enhancement

Item #: ERNMX-175 Cost: $74.32/lb
Categories: ,
Description: The native grass-like species can support waterfowl, such as ducks. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Fall Sweets Wildlife Mix

Item #: ERNMX-184 Cost: $2.85/lb
Categories:
Description: This annual mix should be planted from May-early June for later summer grazing, or late July-early August (not later than September 1st) for fall grazing. The palatable tops (stems as well as leaves) and bulb roots of the brassicas are high in crude protein. Mix formulations are subject to change ()

Spring Greens Mix

Item #: ERNMX-185 Cost: $4.13/lb
Categories:
Description: The legumes and forbs attract deer and turkey in the early spring and provide necessary protein for antler development. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function ()

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