The best month to plant a food plot is when you can catch some rain, right? If only it was that simple! The best month to start building your field (s) of dreams really depends on your desire to grow a quality deer herd that will also offer you an exceptional hunt. You can accomplish both goals of great herds and great hunts, but that largely depends on your ability to successfully tap into the timing of your food plot activities, during the best time of the year to plant.
Not All Planting Windows Are Created Equal
The best month to plant a food plot can't be measured purely in pretty fields of weedless forage. Instead, a successful food plot planting window considers your ability to influence the success of the herd and the success of the hunt, as well as the success of your planting, all at the same time. Here are 5 important factors that will answer the question of when it is truly the best time to work the fields and broadcast some food plot seed into the ground:
- Herd Influence By Food -Let's face it, in the North 1/2 of the Country, deer have several times more food than they actually can consume, during the Summer months. With diverse Northern swamp and hardwood combinations, suburban and rural patchwork habitat diversity and a high % of agricultural in much of the Northern whitetail range, whitetails often live like kings during the months of Spring and Summer. However as the native forages begin to die with every approaching September and ag fields continue to be picked cleaner as the years pass by, a whitetails diet spans from needy to desparate between October to April in most locations. If you aren't adequately hitting the months of October to April for your local deer herd, you will lack the ability to influence herd health, protect young bucks and control overall population numbers. Although corn and beans can supply a portion of the Fall and Winter needs of the local deer herd, they require significant resources of land, money and equipment. Greens of oats, rye, brassicas, peas, clover and even late planted soybeans, should account for 50% to 100% of all of your food plot plantings. Those greens should all be planted during the periods of late July and August to capture their full potential. Even clover should be planted during the late Summer, where cover crops of oats, brassica and rye can be used to nurse the crop through the Fall and into the following Summer, where the young clover should then have sufficient growth to withstand drought.
- Food Plots For Hunting Timing -When is the best time to plant as it relates to your hunting? At a time when your food plot plantings can be peaking in the middle of the season and not after or before. Most plantings can be geared towards the leanes times of the year for whitetails AND at a time when it helps your hunting efforts the most, because both of their timings are closely related.
- Plant When Weeds Are Beginning To Die -During the early Spring not only are many food plots ready to take off, but so are the weed seeds and root stock that fill the soil within the plots. Planting during the Spring can be an uphill climb for your food plotting efforts and although traditional farming practices rely heavily on the Spring, it may not be the best time of the eyar to plant a food plot. Planting during the late Summer parallels the end of the growth cycle of many weed varieties. That does not mean that proper weed control measures should be ignored, including discing or herbacide practices, but it does mean that your food plot has a much better chance of surviving the annual onslaught of undesirables.
- Increasing Moisture Patterns -While April showers bring May flowers, June and July can often drought your food plots to death. Although August can be hit or miss with random rolling thunderstorms, increase slowly increases into the months of Fall and early Winter.
- August Food Plot Planting Window -Early August to Early September may just be the best time to plant a food plot. While corn and beans need to be planted during the Spring, many do not have the resources and even then, there are a strong portion of parcels where they would not be appropriate. Greens are king when it comes to capturing the needs of the local deer herd as well as your hunt, and there is no better time to plant a huge variety of greens, then during the month of August.
When Are You Working The Ground This Planting Season?
For weed control, moisture, food plot, herd and hunting success, my favorite month to plant a food plot is during August. Althought he month of August is arguable the best time to plant a food plot, you will find personal success if you match the needs of the local herd and hunt to your timing window. Why does the hunting season even matter? Because deer herds are attracted, molded, shaped and controlled during the hunting season more than any other period of time during the entire year. The hunting season is also a great time to meet the needs of the local deer herd, at a time when the local food sources are beginning their annual decline. To experience your greatest potential level of influence for the herd and hunt, consider making the month of August your favorite time to plant as well!
*Make sure to check out the above video, for even more planting tips! Also, for the incredible weather that slammed into the area, before we could finish.