10 Best Food Plot Planting Tips

Knowing when, where, why and how to plant food plots

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Know How Much Land to Plant and Have a Purpose

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1 | Know How Much Land to Plant and Have a Purpose

Planting the right amount of ground in food plots is a delicate balance. Too little food means starvation. Too much means wasted money. Gauge how much food the property already generates and then determine a figure.

Next, decide upon each plot’s purpose. Is it to feed the herd? Is it to simply draw deer in for a shot opportunity? The dynamics and make-up of a feed plot and micro (kill) plot will be much different.

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Don’t Plant Near Property Lines

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2 | Don’t Plant Near Property Lines

Maybe you just purchased a new piece of hunting land through Realtree United Country. Planting near a property line helps your neighbor as much as it does you. Don’t do it. (Unless you’ve talked to and are working with them to manage deer in the area.) When possible, keep at least 100 to 200 yards between property lines and food plots. And always make sure they’re out of sight.

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Keep Stand Locations, Wind Directions and Travel Routes in Mind

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3 | Keep Stand Locations, Wind Directions and Travel Routes in Mind

Designing a food plot is one thing. Designing it around how deer already use the property is another. Think about where your treestands and ground blinds will go. Consider wind directions and how deer maneuver the landscape. Lastly, think about how you’ll access, and depart from, food plot stands. Heeding these factors can mean the difference between success and failure.

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Use Shapes and Screens to Your Advantage in Micro Plots

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4 | Use Shapes and Screens to Your Advantage in Micro Plots

Planting food plots in certain deer-friendly shapes can boost their value. T-, Y-, U-, J-, L-, X-, and V-shaped food plots seem to naturally encourage deer to travel the entire length of the plot. At least, they tend to travel it far enough to see the entire thing. (They are curious animals and want to see what other deer are in the plot.) Keep micro plots small enough to cover the majority of the ground to increase odds of getting a shot at deer that enter the open.

Food plot screens are also important. They make deer more comfortable entering the open during daylight hours. (They can’t see outside of the food plot, and nothing can see in from ground level.) Planting this as a buffer around the perimeter softens up “hard edges” and makes the transition from other habitat types to your food plots much smoother.

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Take a Soil Sample

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5 | Take a Soil Sample

Just throwing down fertilizer for the sake of throwing it down does little for your food plots. It’s best to take a soil sample. Send it off to a lab to get analyzed. They’ll tell you what fertilizer and lime is needed — in terms of both quality and quantity.

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Spray for Weeds

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6 | Spray for Weeds

Spray food plots before and (sometimes) after you plant them. Weeds are killer. Kill them before they steal your hard-earned plot dollars. Use pre- and post-emergence sprays as needed (and permitted). Deciding when, how and what spray to use will depend on the seed you plant, among other factors.

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Fertilize and Lime as Needed

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7 | Fertilize and Lime as Needed

Fertilize and lime with a purpose. Use the soil sample you received to determine what soil pH corrections are needed. Also, study the particular species you plan to plant. Each one is different and prefers slightly different soil conditions.

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Prepare the Seed Bed Appropriately

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8 | Prepare the Seed Bed Appropriately

Some food plot species are more resilient than others. That said, it’s important to prepare a good seed bed prior to planting. Spray. Fertilize. Then break ground. Till it. Disc it. Break up the soil in a manner that seeds will establish a root network and flourish.

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Understand Seeding Rates

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9 | Understand Seeding Rates

Knowing how much seed to toss is as important as other factors. Plant too few seeds and your plot is spotty. This translates to underutilized land. Plant too many and it’s crowded. This leads to stunted growth. Fortunately, most seed bags, such as those from Backwoods Attraction, will provide instructions. All said, it’s better to sow a little too much seed than not enough. But the closer we are to that happy medium, the better.

Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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Cover the Seed Adequately

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10 | Cover the Seed Adequately

It doesn’t matter what you plant — you have to cover it with dirt. Some need to be planted deeper (or shallower) than others, but they all need at least a dusting on top. Research the seed you plant beforehand and use the covering method it calls for to ensure adequate seed-to-soil contact. That too will determine the difference between a lush, green food plot and a failed stand of sprouts.

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Photo Credit: Josh Honeycutt

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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Raising. Growing. Cultivating. All hard tasks. Just ask mothers, fathers and alfalfa farmers. Or, check with a food plot planter. They know it, too.

You’d think it simple to get a green shoot to appear, thrive and grow tall. But it isn’t. And therefore, it’s good to follow best practices when planting food plots. Here are 10 of them.