Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on May 27, 2002. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Food plots help wildlife through summer months
By Jeanie Davidson
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cultivating food plots is an ideal way to provide much-needed forage for wildlife through late summer and attract these animals before hunting seasons begin.
"Planting food plots is a part of good land management," said Ben West, associate wildlife specialist for Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Warm season plots can provide a number of benefits, such as preventing soil erosion and providing forage for many game animals when food quality and quantity are low. They also can provide a nesting habitat for smaller animals, like bobwhite quail."
Landowners often overlook the value of warm-season food plots, but since deer population levels are so high in late summer, finding adequate forage may be difficult. Native plants do not produce as much nourishment until fall, when acorns and nuts are plentiful.
"Landowners can cultivate a variety of plants from roughly mid-April to the first of June to ensure that animals do not suffer from lack of forage. Alyceclover and soybeans work well," West said.
Soybeans, which provide food and cover for turkeys, rabbits, quail, ducks and doves, are high in protein and browsed heavily by deer. For best results, select the type used for forage and plant a large field.
"Alyceclover is very beneficial to white-tailed deer because it holds up well to feeding pressure," West said.
Landowners waste time and money when they plant without considering proper fertilization and liming, so a soil test is strongly recommended. Also, since many soils in the Southeast tend to be acidic, periodically adding lime can increase forage production and quality.
"Soil test results can be gotten through MSU Extension offices in every county," West said. "Indicate what is to be planted, and they can customize the report based on your sample."
West also said mixing plants provides seeds and vegetation for a variety of animals. Plant diversity can increase chances of wildlife habitation, and aid in viewing and harvesting of wildlife. Corn can be planted with soybeans, and cowpeas make a good companion plant to alyceclover.
Plant with a drill or broadcast seeder. If a broadcast seeder is used, West recommended planting more seed per acre and using a disk to increase germination rates.
To learn more about warm-season food plots or soil tests, contact a local Extension agent.