There are several ways to provide additional forage for white-tailed deer and other wildlife on your property, but one of the best is through the use of food plots. Planting food plots is an great way to improve wildlife nutrition, attract wildlife and increase the carrying capacity (while they are growing) on your property. That being said, food plots should not be used in place of habitat management, but rather to supplement the quantity and quality of foods that naturally occur on a property.
Habitat improvement techniques are more important than food plots for deer, turkey and other game animals, yet many hunters overlook habitat enhancement because it is more labor intensive and time consuming. However, there is nothing better adapted to an area than native plants, and wildlife have developed to eat them, so management practices such as timber management, brush management, prescribed burning and diking should be implemented before food plots.
As one might expect, food plot plantings will depend upon which wildlife species you want to attract, as well as the seasonal requirements of the plant species you decide to seed. Remember, not all wildlife species benefit from all food plot plantings, but well thought out food plot mixtures do provide benefits to a variety of wildlife species. Also, keep in mind that not all plant species can grow in harmony. In certain cases, taller plants can shade out trailing or low-growing species.
It is important to take the proper steps when preparing food plots for wildlife. In short, the process of planting a food plot the same as planting a farm crop. Before beginning, learn as much as you can about how to plant a food plot. The most important factor is to pair the soil type and expected available moisture to the species that is to be planted, as well as ensuring that the species you plant will in fact attract the wildlife you are interested in.
Begin by identifying areas on the property where the targeted wildlife species are often observed. Then look for suitable food plot sites for planting, which are generally flat where soil moisture is above average. It is very important to plant plots when adequate soil moisture is present to improve seed germination and establishment. If environmental conditions are poor, then pelleted feeds may be a better option, otherwise the time and money spent developing food plots will be wasted. With this in mind, the very best time to plant a food plot is just prior to a nice, soaking rain.