6 Food Plots on a Budget

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Great Food Plots. Not Too Much Cash.

Sunflowers

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1 | Sunflowers

Most people think of sunflowers as a great dove field plot. And it is. But it’s also good for deer. In climates where sunflowers will grow, plant them. They’re very high in protein and offer deer a unique food source that your neighbors likely won’t have. That’s the name of the game. Give deer foods to eat they can’t get elsewhere.

If you opt out of a soil test, spread roughly 200 pounds of 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 per acre. Spray and bush hog if drilling. Spray, bush hog and disc if broadcasting. Plant seeds approximately ¼-inch deep. Don’t plant too thick, as too many plants will grow and competition will result in a failed plot.

Sunflowers seeds run approximately $25 per 10 pounds of seed. Broadcast about 25 pounds per one acre of ground. Less is needed if drilling. Around 115 days are needed for the plant to fully mature.

Photo credit: Getman/ Shutterstock photo

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Clover

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2 | Clover

If I know anything at all about food plots, it’s that you can’t beat clover. It’s one of the best food plot options there is for deer, if not the best. Plant it if you want to kill deer over a food plot this fall. It's hard to beat the 25 percent protein it offers.

Get a soil test. If you opt out of a soil test, spread roughly 200 pounds of 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 per acre. Spray, bush hog, and disc before broadcasting. Plant seeds approximately ¼-inch deep. Broadcast about 15 pounds per 1 acre of ground.

Buy your clover seed here.

Photo credit: Bill Konway

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Peas

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3 | Peas

Want a great food plot to bowhunt over? Try peas. Deer love them and hunters that plant them do, too. You can’t go wrong with a good plot of peas.

Get a soil test. If you opt out of a soil test, spread roughly 250 pounds of 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 per acre. Spray, bush hog and disc before broadcasting. Plant seeds approximately 1 inch deep. If drilling, use approximately 30 pounds per acre. If broadcasting, use about 45 pounds per acre of ground. Plant in late summer between August and September, depending on latitude.

Buy your seed here.

Photo credit: Martin Lisner/ Shutterstock photo

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Alfalfa

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4 | Alfalfa

This is the king of protein. But beware, it isn’t easy to grow. It’s susceptible to overgrazing and is much finickier over soil type preference. But for those who can get it to grow, it’s the best warm-season food plot option available.

Alfalfa does best when the pH is slightly higher than 7.0. Get a soil test to see how the ground looks. A soil test is much more important when planting alfalfa than other plot options. Plant seed approximately ¼-inch deep. Spread about 30 acres if broadcasting and 20 pounds if drilling.

Buy alfalfa seed here.

Photo credit: Sunny Forest/ Shutterstock photo

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Milo

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5 | Milo

Here’s one for the Midwestern folks. You can grow it in the East, Mid-South, and South. But it grows so much better in the midwestern states. Commonly referred to as grain sorghum, milo can grow well passed head-height in many regions.

Get a soil test. But if that isn’t an option, spread about 250 pounds of 13-13-13 fertilizer. This plant grows best with a soil pH around 6.5. Broadcast approximately 15 pounds per acre and drill about seven pounds per acre.

Photo credit: Chailalla/ Shutterstock photo

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Soybeans

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6 | Soybeans

These plots are everywhere. You can’t drive down the road without seeing soybeans anymore. But that’s okay. It helps the wildlife. The problem: Deer severely over browse them. But it’s hard to beat 30 percent protein. So you plant them anyway.

Use an appropriate amount of fertilizer and lime. Disc the ground and run back over it to firm the seedbed. Then spread approximately 75 pounds of seed per acre. Less is needed if drilling. Deer will continue to eat them until they turn yellow. Then they will begin to hit them again once the beans harden.

Editor's note: This was originally published April 7, 2016.

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Photo credit: Bill Konway photo

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Food plots serve as a big part of what I do each season. They can be used to feed deer. They can be used to kill deer. It all depends on location, orientation and design. But one thing remains constant regardless of the purpose of the plot: You need the right seed. But food plot seeds aren’t cheap. Here are six great options for those on a budget.