Corn is king, but can be expensive to plant and prepare.
My favorite low cost food plots are below in random order:
Fall rye ($15-20 per 50lbs) Plant 80-100lbs per acre
Oats (regular feed oats about $8-10 per 50lbs) Plant 80-100 lbs per acre
Brassicas (purple top turnips, appin forage turnips and dwarf essix rape). I bought 7lbs from welter seed for $19 mixed. Plant anywhere from 3-5lbs per acre.
I own 117 acres in SE Ohio. I have three food plots on my property. None of them exceed over an acre. I do this so the deer feel safe feeding in them before night. I plant annuals each year since I live 2 hours from my property and do not have time to mow them all the time. Plus, I want something that draws the deer while I am hunting, period. I plant a plot of oats, rye and brassicas every year and simply rotate.
Here is what I do:
Mow/till the plots the same day (usually around mid june)
Let the plot sit for 1 month
Spray new green growth with round-up usually around last of July (anytime you till and turn the ground over you are exposing new weed seed. This is why I spray LAST.)
wait a week and plant brassicas in early August (I'll wait and plant my oats and rye about mid August)
Ohio's bow season starts Sept 26 this year. I want my oats and rye to be 6" or less when bow season comes in. I put my brassicas in early (late July early August) so they have time to mature. Most of the time the deer don't start hitting my brassicas until mid-late October.
Not counting lime, only seed, my plots cost me $70 in seed every year. The past two years I have not put any fertilizer out, only lime. Without a good PH fertilizer is a waste anyways. With fertilizer prices the way they are, I save the money and buy lime. It's been working fine. I can buy 5 bags of lime to 1 bag of fertilizer. If you're going to cut corners, do not skimp on lime. I buy pelletized lime for $4 per 50lb bag because I can't get a lime truck back to my plots (only 4-wheeler). Initially I put 400lbs on each plot and now I just touch them up each year with 2 bags on each (6 total).
I try to save as much money as I can and the deer can't tell a difference. I buy all my seed from the local co-op and welters seed. You don't need that name brand stuff.
Soil ph should be in the 7.6-8.0 range then you can cut the lime back. It takes lime several seasons to fully intigrate into the soil and only works by direct contact with soil so the lime should be worked into the top 3-4 inches of the soil with the disks. Clovers don't need nitrogen so a 0-10-10 product would be fairly inexpensive but most other crops will need some amount of nitrogen to maximize growth. I will be planting plots with brassicas and clover/chickory blend.
Well went to Cabela's and got the seed for the PA food plots. The small dryer plot will get Tecomate Alfa-feast its a mix of alfalfa and chickory. The bigger plot will get a mix of Tecomate Monster mix and Ultra forage these are basically chickory, clovers, turnips, and rape. Hopefully, this will give the deer differing maturing feeds. On vacation the last week of June so planting will take place. They've had a lot of spring rain and the lower food plot was still wet two weeks ago. Hope to get some rain post planting!
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ronn, my buddy in PA only saw that buck once on his property and then nothing. We didn't hear of him being shot either, just vanished prior to bow season. I will take the camera with me to show the plot progress. I have a lot of neglected work to do. I hope most of the plots have been killed with the round up. Then just brush hog it low, disk, drag, fertlize and plant. Hopefully weather allows for two days work then rain. I wish I could do a control burn but that's not an option.
Deer will hit the corn in early and late season hard. I think corn is probably best for deer during the late rut, great place to wait on Mr. Big, coming into the field to get his belly field to survive the winter months.
I hunt some cornfields during late rut to either fill my doe tags or just to sit there and see how many big bucks has made it through the season.
Corn is around 8% protein and mostly carbohydrates so while its a good late season/winter food draw its not a good protein food for growing giant racks. Corn matures too late in the season to provide much for growing a bucks rack. Minimum protein intake, during the antler growing period, needs to be 16% and above to generate really trophy racks. Corn does provive a good thermo break in hard winter, if left standing. Other food plot plants can generate up to 38% protein coupled with excellent genetics makes a good combination to produce big guys to pursue.
Tough order fo fill for you mister! You have seen so many and taken a few very imrvessipe trophies I cant even imagine what goes thru your mind when u see a typical shooter buck!Atleast you know exactly what you are looking for!Take care and be safe!
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