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#3087630 - 12/19/12 08:30 PM Reasons for food plot being undesirable
BT1
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Registered: 11/01/12
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Loc: Nashville, TN

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Many people have have stated on this board that there food plots have not been a perferred by deer on there property. I spent the last two years researching the this very topic and it comes down to soil fertility. Most people have a problem with brassicas (i.e. rape, kale, turnups) and/or poor stands of perenial clover. The reason being brassicas have a high water content and do well in acidic soils. When your soils are acidic the plant will be constantly loosing water through cell walls (transpiration) due to poor cell structure. While water in the plant is constaintly being released. sulfer is unable to, causing poor taste. When proper ammounts of calcium(major element in aglime) are available in the soil, nitrogen is able to carry the full amount of potassium and calcuim to the cells, thus creating proper cell structure. The plant will not be overloading itself with elements that cause undesirable forage.

I'm sure your wondering what this all means, and it took me while to figure it out my self. When soil pH is at its proper level the plant will naturally be able to pull from the soil everything it needs other than; nitrogen and water (for this region). Over time soil microbes will produce majority of the plants needs when liming your soils. Plants water consumption is reduced by half when the soil pH in nuetral to slightly acidic.

When Applying fertilizer to acidic soils:
-most plants can only uptake 30% of ag fertilizers when the soils pH is below 4.5
-most plants can only uptake 60% of ag fertilizers when soils pH is below 5.5

--The major component of Ag Fertilizers is Sulfur used as a Carrier. This is the major element used to make soils MORE acidic.

--Thus, don't throw money down the drain by constantly dumping fertilizers with out adjusting your pH. This just causes salt build up in your soils and takes additional water from the plant along with other negative affects.

A soil test is much cheaper than a bag of fertilizer and very easy to do.

First off, do a soil test and get your pH to its proper levels (around 6.5). Applying lime is key, but if you can't do this, apply liquid calcuim. This will not adjust your soils but will give the plant what it needs over a 30-60 period. Another option, is verdi-cal or solu-cal. This will raise your pH one point in 21 days (more expensive and last 6 to 9 months), but a very good product. These two are used in the turfgrass industry.

The first year can be difficult in getting some types of forages established but by the second year you will be amazed by the results. Minimal soil tillage has been found to work the best for soil health and water retainage. Try using a water soluble fertilizer to suppliment the plant if needed. I buy a 30 lb. bag at he CO-OP for less than thirty bucks and use 3 lbs/ acre to give any plots a boost. I believe its the 20-20-20. I used two bags for 14 acres of plots all of last year.

Hopefully this helps. You will see major improvements from your plots recovery to browsing along with saving a lot on fertilizer cost.

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#3087834 - 12/19/12 10:42 PM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: BT1]
Hunter 257W
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Registered: 10/04/12
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Loc: Franklin County

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You confused me on the soil requirements of brassicas. It seems as if you are saying they do well or even need more acidic soil at 1st but then you stress the need for a soil test and imply the need to adjust pH towards neutral?

I know brassicas are more tolerant of acidic soil than legumes for instance but didn't know that a neutral pH would negatively affect them - if that's what you are saying?

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#3088249 - 12/20/12 09:20 AM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: Hunter 257W]
woodsman87
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Registered: 09/27/12
Posts: 1297
Loc: south TN

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I think mine just needs to be soil tested and limed to get the pH right. I have no idea what the pH is , but I imagine it is pretty acidic since I have seen some of the green slime/moss stuff on some parts of the soil. Some of the rape has red or purpleish leaves, and I have heard from old-timers that means the soil is too acidic.
I am familiar with solu-cal, I worked turf management during my college years. I have just been to poor and to cheap the last few years to do a soil test and put the lime or solu cal out. Solu-cal is expensive, and no tellin how many poinds of lime I would have to use. I will fix it soon though.

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#3088334 - 12/20/12 10:00 AM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: woodsman87]
Hunter 257W
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Registered: 10/04/12
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Loc: Franklin County

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A good rule of thumb for lime if you don't have time for a soil test(not really a problem right now because Spring planting season in at least a couple months away even for the earliest food plot plants) is 2 tons an acre. I put 3 per acre in my new one last year. Not really intentionally - the lime truck delivery gate was stuck and dumped it out too fast. \:\)

Another good indicator of acidic soil is the presence of sage grass or bitterweeds(yellow tops).


Edited by Hunter 257W (12/20/12 10:01 AM)

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#3088343 - 12/20/12 10:05 AM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: Hunter 257W]
woodsman87
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Registered: 09/27/12
Posts: 1297
Loc: south TN

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My pastures have sage grass in them everywhere, and I knew that they loved acidic soil, but we gonna half to sale a few more calves before I can get that limed probably. The food plots do not have much sage, that I can tell, but I still think it is too acidic.
I am ready for next year now after having these discussions to see what I do to improve my plots and pasture land.

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#3088490 - 12/20/12 11:52 AM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: woodsman87]
Hunter 257W
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Registered: 10/04/12
Posts: 3075
Loc: Franklin County

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Just for the sake of comparison, lime is about $22/ton here if somebody spreads it for you.
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#3088588 - 12/20/12 01:17 PM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: Hunter 257W]
BT1
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Hunter 257W sorry for the confussion. Brassicas do grow well in acidic soils but due to soil condition they will not be a palatable for deer until late winter.

Woodsman, shoot me a PM with your email address, I can send you a couple of prices on some products I use that are not as expensive as you might think.

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#3088649 - 12/20/12 02:07 PM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: BT1]
Hunter 257W
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Registered: 10/04/12
Posts: 3075
Loc: Franklin County

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 Originally Posted By: BT1
Hunter 257W sorry for the confussion. Brassicas do grow well in acidic soils but due to soil condition they will not be a palatable for deer until late winter.

Woodsman, shoot me a PM with your email address, I can send you a couple of prices on some products I use that are not as expensive as you might think.


So far, my deer won't eat brassicas at all. If they don't eat them again this year in my new food plot, I'm done with brassicas. They work great for some people but I've tried them off and on for about 5 years with no success yet.

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#3088697 - 12/20/12 02:36 PM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: Hunter 257W]
woodsman87
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Registered: 09/27/12
Posts: 1297
Loc: south TN

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I have had success with them brassicas before, and maybe one thing that is getting me so worked up. The first year I ever tried rape, I believe the deer ate it all before it even started to look like rape. I was getting countionus pics of does in there and I think that as soon as it would sprout it would get picked up seed root and all. Then I have also had some good success hunting over it in the past, not killing just seen does and small ones, eat the rape. But the past three or four years have been a very bad disapointment.
I wonder if my soil could have degraded over time? And like I said earlier, I know it isn't hunting pressure. I just don't hunt it near enough much less shoot deer in it.

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#3088849 - 12/20/12 04:27 PM Re: Reasons for food plot being undesirable [Re: woodsman87]
BT1
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Registered: 11/01/12
Posts: 8
Loc: Nashville, TN

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 Originally Posted By: woodsman87
I have had success with them brassicas before, and maybe one thing that is getting me so worked up. The first year I ever tried rape, I believe the deer ate it all before it even started to look like rape. I was getting countionus pics of does in there and I think that as soon as it would sprout it would get picked up seed root and all. Then I have also had some good success hunting over it in the past, not killing just seen does and small ones, eat the rape. But the past three or four years have been a very bad disapointment.
I wonder if my soil could have degraded over time? And like I said earlier, I know it isn't hunting pressure. I just don't hunt it near enough much less shoot deer in it.


On most of my plots I will plant rape, Forage oats, clover and chickory (added this year). The oats is the best attractant I've found. With this mixture I will have good forage through summer. Almost all of my clover made it through the summer and still doing well a year later. This allows me to plant less each year knowing in year 3 I will replant the area if needed.

Here is a picture of a clover planted last year and the mixture I planted this year side by side.
http://i1321.photobucket.com/albums/u547/bto13/brentsphone122112041_zpsbda62cea.jpg

Here is a picture of another plot with the same mixture.
http://i1321.photobucket.com/albums/u547/bto13/brentsphone122112046_zpsf75f8deb.jpg

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