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Reasons Your Food Plots Donít Work with Dr. Grant Woods

The Importance of Fertilizer and Herbicides in a Green Field

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If you’ve put time, money and sweat equity into your green fields; planted 10 green fields; and spotted plenty of tracks and signs around the green fields, but seen few if any deer or perhaps only does and small bucks or only deer on specific green fields, then you need to know why you’re having problems with your green fields. We took your questions to one of the nation’s leading deer researchers and the creator of Mossy Oak’s BioLogic green-field plantings, Dr. Grant Woods of Reeds Spring, Missouri, who has spent thousands of hours studying deer and green-field management, as well as Click to enlargestudying how to most-effectively use those green fields to grow and harvest mature bucks. Let’s look at common green-field problems and Dr. Woods’ solutions.

Problem: I put out fertilizer every year when I plant, but I still don’t have that lush, green foliage I’ve seen in other food plots. Am I not using enough fertilizer or putting it out frequently enough? Am I using the wrong fertilizer? Or, is fertilizer even the problem?
Woods’ Solution: Your food plot will fail if the soil doesn’t have enough nutrients. Plants transfer nutrients from the soil through their leaves or seeds and into the animals. Food plots lose nutrients faster than your yard or a cow pasture will. For example, when you cut your grass, those grass clippings go right back into your yard. When cows feed in a pasture, they defecate those nutrients right back into the ground. But if a deer goes to a food plot and eats, he leaves that food plot to defecate. The deer carries the nutrients he’s taken out of the food with him out of the food plot and deposits it somewhere else. Deer defecate about 24 times a day; therefore, most of the nutrients produced in the food plot by the green plants are carried out of the food plot, not returned to the soil in the food plot. Deer also drop their antlers, die of natural causes and are killed and taken-off the land. The nutrients stored-up in the deer’s body also leave the food plot. To replenish the food plot with nutrients essential for plant and deer growth, you must fertilize food plots every year. You have to fertilize food plots much-more frequently than any other form of agriculture because the agriculture on the food plot is totally being moved from the area periodically. If you don’t fertilize your green fields frequently, they won’t produce the volume of deer food required to attract and hold deer.Click to enlarge

Problem: OK, I’ve done everything you’ve recommended so far, but I’m still not getting that lush, green foliage I want in my green fields. I know I’ve got a lot of weeds in my green field, but I can’t go back in and plow the weeds. And, after all, weeds are green plants. Aren’t they good for the deer, too?Click to enlarge
Woods’ Solution: Actually, the definition of a weed is a plant that grows in your green field that you don’t want. Usually these plants are very aggressive and rob the green field of water and nutrients. For instance, you may have beautiful roses growing in your food plot, but deer won’t eat those stemmy roses. The roses are competing with the crop you’ve planted for deer for moisture and for nutrients. Therefore, the rose, regardless of how pretty it is, is a weed in your food plot. Today’s herbicides are so cost-effective, inexpensive and safe that I can’t think of any reason to have weeds in your food plots. If you’re trying to establish a new food plot, you may want to utilize a pre-emergent herbicide even before you till the ground. If you have an existing green field, you may want to use a different type of herbicide to get rid of the weeds. Weed control is often as simple as looking at your planting regime. Make sure that if you’re planting more than one crop in your field throughout the year, the seeds from the other crop don’t sprout and come back when you’re trying to grow your new crop. Rye grass, for example, produces a lot of seeds, which means you’ll have a hard time controlling rye grass after you’ve previously used it in the fall, and you come back and plant something else in the spring.

Consider Dr. Woods’ suggestions, and follow his prescription for planting and managing green fields to have better crops and more deer this season.
Tomorrow: What Keeps Deer Coming to a Green Field

Check back each day this week for more about "Reasons Your Food Plots Donít Work with Dr. Grant Woods"

Day 1: Water – The Essential Element for a Successful Green Field
Day 2: The Importance of Fertilizer and Herbicides in a Green Field
Day 3: What Keeps Deer Coming to a Green Field
Day 4: Site Selection for Green Fields and Their Design Are Critical for Success
Day 5: Other Solutions to Food-Plot Problems with Dr. Grant Woods


Entry 525, Day 2