Many deer lease managers focus primarily on fall and winter food plots. However, deer and other wildlife can benefit from forage provided year-round, even in the summer months. Certain seed varieties help provide nutritional supplements during the stress throughout the summer. One of the first steps in creating attractive spring and summer food plots for deer is quality seed advises Daniel Bumgarner of Wildlife Management Solutions (WMS).
“We offer a variety of premium seed blends that will perform in any soil type around. The proper seed types and blends when planted correctly will provide nutritious forage throughout the summer months into deer season,” Bumgarner advised.
Deer lease manager, Matt Smith, of Clay County, Ala. has used WMS Alabama Blend the last two fall seasons.
“We plant the Alabama Blend in our larger food plots along the power line rights-of-way,” comments Smith. “This season we noticed something surprising. During the mid-season we checked four deer, two does and two bucks. Even though we had several corn feeders placed over 500 acres all four deer had green in their stomachs. None had any corn.,”Smith said.
Smith and his crew understand the importance of having year-round green forage for deer.
WMS recommends the Pea Patch seed blend as the best spring and summer food plot for deer. This blend is a mix of peas, beans, buckwheat and sunflowers. This blend will provide forage from late spring until the first frost. The buckwheat first emerges to provide early forage while the beans and sunflowers begin to grow. Sunflowers provide a climbing structure for the peas. There are three different varieties of peas that mature at different stages throughout the summer.
Pea Patch blend can be planted at a rate of 40 pounds per acre. Soil should be evenly disked, and seed adequately broadcasted. Always perform a soil test and apply lime and fertilizer as indicated by test results. Drag or otherwise cover the seed evenly.
Another seed choice for summer food plots is Lablab. It is like soybean and cowpeas. It is adapted to a wide variety of soils. It contains around 25 percent protein and is drought tolerant and adaptable to soil fertility. It will provide plenty of forage until the first frost.
Using Liquid fertilizer
Most wildlife managers understand that, in order to effectively grow the best spring and summer food plots for deer, your plants require three major nutrients; Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These are the basic nutrients in all fertilizers. Overall plant health translates to providing quality, nutritious forage for all types of wildlife.
Chris Grantham of Alabama Liquid Fertilizer explains the pros and cons of using liquid fertilizer versus granular fertilizers.
According to Grantham, one reason that liquid fertilizer like Clark’s Plot Nutrients is more efficient is because liquid fertilizer is applied as a foliar. Since it is directly applied to the foliage, the plant can instantly begin absorbing and using the nutrients of the fertilizer. There is no waiting on soil moisture or rain to activate the fertilizer.
In granular fertilizer applications the nutrients have to “melt” into the soil before the plant can utilize the fertilizer. In sandy soil Nitrogen can move six to nine inches after a rain which means it is possible the plant roots may never receive any of the benefits of Nitrogen.
There is a time lag for the granular nutrients to melt into the soil before the plant roots can receive them. During this lag time wildlife like deer, turkey, quail and others are consuming a less than nutritious plant.
In addition, granular fertilizers are not consistent with nutrients in each granule. Plant roots can steer away from granular fertilizers that are high in Nitrogen and Phosphorous. Granular fertilizers are soil and pH dependent for the plant roots to utilize the nutrients. With a low soil pH level, the plant will not get all the benefits of the granular fertilizer.
On the other hand, liquid fertilizers have the same amount of nutrients in each drop. Plants can absorb liquid fertilizers more efficiently. Leaves, stems, blooms and fruit can intake the liquid much faster than granular. With liquid fertilizer the plant begins utilizing the nutrients right away. As a result, deer munching on food plots fertilized with Clark’s Plots Nutrients begin benefitting from the enriched plants. Phosphorus is essential for rack growth in bucks.
Grantham pointed out that there are two major factors in why liquid fertilizer is a wise choice, when it comes to summer food plots for deer. One, it makes the plants more palatable to wildlife. This means that the plants taste better. The second reason is the liquid fertilizer acts like a mineral lick. The product also provides calcium which is beneficial to deer and turkey and other wildlife.
Calcium is an essential mineral to help in growing racks on bucks. Does also benefit from healthy development of fawns resulting in better fawn survival.
Another consideration is that liquid fertilizers are less expensive than the granular form. Grantham says his product is around $20 per gallon. The amount of liquid fertilizer required is around 2 – 2 ½ gallons per acre. For a one-acre food plot the cost would be around $40 bucks.
Application is much easier with liquid fertilizers. An ATV style sprayer can be used to effectively spray a food plot in a short time. The liquid is fertilizer diluted with water. Users will need to determine the amount of liquid their sprayer is emitting.
Liquid fertilizer can be applied when the plants are around three to six inches high. An average application of liquid fertilizers will last around two to three months. Also, depending on the plant species, liquid fertilizer can be used year-round.
Grantham cautions that before you apply liquid fertilizer be sure wash out and clean the spray tank if it has been used with herbicides like Round-Up. Flush out pump, hoses and spray nozzles. Killing all of your plants would, definitely, not make for the best spring and summer food plots for deer.
For more information contact Alabama Liquid Fertilizer and Supply Inc at ALFandSupply@gmail.com.