Problems and Solutions with Planting Food Plots in the Woods


Putting seed to soil in tight corridors isn’t necessarily easy

Planting food plots in the timber is more challenging than in the open. Take the right steps to protect your investment. (Bill Konway photo)

You got permission to hunt a property. You leased a piece of land. Maybe you even purchased your own hunting oasis through Realtree United Country. Now, spring is over. The hot summer sun is upon us. And sweat drips down on the regular. Hard work is hard enough already. Planting a kill plot to hunt over isn’t easy. But planting one in the timber or in small clearings is even tougher. It has to be done, though, right? Here are challenges with timber plots and how to overcome them.

Challenge No. 1: Equipment Accessibility

Getting a tractor and disc into the timber is tough. If there isn't an existing roadbed or trail already cut, getting big equipment through the thick stuff is near to impossible.

How to Overcome: Use smaller equipment. Four-wheelers and implements made for them are easier to get into tighter areas. Yamaha makes excellent gear. Another option is cutting trails into food plots. This makes travel to and from stands easier. Lastly, if the area is semi-cleared and receives enough sunlight, use hand tools to break up the soil, sow a seed that doesn’t need to be planted deep, and use hand tools to ensure seed-to-soil contact.

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Challenge No. 2: Depleted Soil

Oftentimes, timber soil isn’t ideal for growing quality food plots. Learning this the hard way isn’t easy. Better off to verify and overcome.

How to Overcome: Take a soil sample. See what the soil has to offer. If it’s lacking, determine what needs to be added. Then spread the appropriate fertilizer (or lime) depending on the results.

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Challenge No. 3: Tree Stumps and Rocks

Tree stumps. Massive roots. Boulders and rocks. These and more impede breaking ground inside the timber. There are few things more aggravating than binding up or breaking a disc plate every five minutes.Looking for new hunting land? Check out all of the great listings on Realtree United Country at (Realtree photo)

How to Overcome: Think long-term. Use an approved solution to rot old stumps. Or, use equipment to extract them. Rock clearing must be done the old-fashioned way — by picking them up.

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Challenge No. 4: Limited Sunlight

Receiving enough sunlight on the ground floor can be challenging in smaller timber plots. This alone can be enough to prevent efforts from thriving. Take the right steps to make it a moot point.

How to Overcome: Clearing more land allows for more sunlight. But if you’re limited, think about the positioning of the sun. Determine where it will be and the path it will take. Then, terrain permitting, paralleling the shape (length) of your food plot with the path of the sun can help increase the amount of daily sunlight your plants receive. Also, planting a variety that needs less sunlight is another good solution, too.

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Challenge No. 5: Overbrowsing

Smaller plots often suffer from overbrowsing. It can quickly destroy young and established food plots. Take the right steps to prevent this before it happens. It’s generally too late to stop it once signs appear.

How to Overcome: The best way is to provide more food. Overbrowsing is a sign there is a shortage. Another option is a seclusion fence that keeps deer and other animals out until after the plants mature. Lastly, while mixed results are common, certain chemicals and objects (such as human hair) are said to keep deer out of an area.

Expect challenges when planting food plots in the woods. But don't let obstacles win. Be prepared. Use these solutions to establish the best timber plots in the block.

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Are you a hunter wanting to learn how to accomplish your goals? Check out our stories, videos and hard-hitting how-to's on food plots and land management.

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