Food Plot Seed: How to Plant Alfalfa

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

What Is Your Preferred Food Plot Seed Option for Wildlife?

Have you ever planted or hunted over alfalfa? (Shutterstock / Tory Stephens photo)

Alfalfa. Deer love it. But when it comes to planting and growing the stuff, it isn’t for the faint of heart. (It’s difficult to keep alive.) That said, this plant is a perennial. If established well and properly kept up, it can last as long as three to five years with adequate maintenance and rainfall.

For those willing to attempt growing it, alfalfa produces numerous essential minerals and vitamins. This legume even sports a whopping 22 to 30 percent protein. The downside? It isn’t cheap. Alfalfa seed goes at a premium. But if you’re serious about your deer hunting, it’s worth the money to put it in the ground. Oftentimes, deer will choose a good stand of alfalfa over a soybean or clover plot.

If you think alfalfa is still the food plot seed option for you, here’s how to get it done.

How to Plant

Spraying for weeds a couple of weeks prior to planting is important. Taking a soil sample is also crucial. A soil pH range of 6.2 to 6.5 will most likely keep alfalfa alive. A range of 6.5 to 6.8 is adequate. A perfect 7.0 is what you really need for this plant to thrive. Spread lime and fertilizer as needed. It might even be necessary to spread 0-0-62 once or twice per year to maximize yield and maintain soil quality.

If broadcasting, seed at a rate of 15 to 16 pounds per acre. If drilling, plant at a rate of 26 to 27 pounds per acre. Don’t plan less than 3 to 4 acres per food plot. This is a very attractive plant — especially right after germination. Planting a lower acreage can result in overbrowsing, and ultimately, a failed food plot.

Alfalfa is susceptible to certain insects that can kill it (such as weevils). Spraying is a must to keep it alive. If that’s not something you can or plan to do, plant something else instead.

When to Plant

You may seed alfalfa in either the spring or fall. In the spring, plant April 15 to 30. In the fall, plant August 1 to 15. They key? Plant at least 60 days prior to the expected first frost. Planting too early can result in inadequate moisture. Planting too late can lead to premature frost kill off before it reaches its potential.

Where to Plant

Alfalfa is a drought-resistant plant. But that doesn’t mean you can plant it anywhere. Alfalfa demands quality soil. It grows best in the rich soils of the Midwest, the dark soils of the Mid-South (Kentucky and Tennessee) and the southernmost states of the Northeast. Plant in areas that receive an abundance of sunlight and have well-drained soil.

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