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Newbie to food plotting

DE bow hunter

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I just re-read your initial post. For some reason I had it in my head that you were trying to establish a food plot in a grass field/yard. If your trying to plant a logging road that isn't covered in heavy grass then I would definitely look at the throw and mow method @Allegheny Tom mentions above. The middle step I mentioned of raking off some of the dead grass isn't necessary unless it's extremely thick like in a hay field. I only rake off some of the grass in a hay field because I have read that too thick of a mat after mowing can smother the new crop.
Thanks guys. Yes it is on a logging road and the grass isn’t super thick but it’s probably knee high right now. I attached a picture of what the area looks like. It may only be .10 of an acre
 

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Allegheny Tom

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Thanks guys. Yes it is on a logging road and the grass isn’t super thick but it’s probably knee high right now. I attached a picture of what the area looks like. It may only be .10 of an acre
Is that truly grass or is it a sedge? A lot of people misidentfy sedge believing that it's a grass. It's not.
 

DE bow hunter

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Go check out the Habitat Talk forum for a wealth of knowledge on plotting.
Search the Throw n mow thread. Its specifically geared towards developing plots with no tilling and minimal equipment.
Is that truly grass or is it a sedge? A lot of people misidentfy sedge believing that it's a grass. It's not.
Really not sure to be honest. It looks like grass, but how would I be able to identify it correctly? I have the iNaturalist app so I guess I could use that. If sedge grows in wetlands then I guess it’s possible. The ground is moist but this area doesn’t have standing water. There are areas on the property that are swampy.
 

DE bow hunter

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Really not sure to be honest. It looks like grass, but how would I be able to identify it correctly? I have the iNaturalist app so I guess I could use that. If sedge grows in wetlands then I guess it’s possible. The ground is moist but this area doesn’t have standing water. There are areas on the property that are swampy.
After doing some reading it could be sedge. I would have to go there to inspect it to be sure. Is that a problem vs grass? Will gly kill it? Sorry guys I’ve never done anything like this before.
I’ve started reading the Habitat forum throw and mow but not sure that’ll work here
 

Allegheny Tom

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Really not sure to be honest. It looks like grass, but how would I be able to identify it correctly? I have the iNaturalist app so I guess I could use that. If sedge grows in wetlands then I guess it’s possible. The ground is moist but this area doesn’t have standing water. There are areas on the property that are swampy.
Sedge stems have a triangular cross section. Cut a stem down low and look at the cross section.
I have plenty of sedge on my place and a lot of it is not located in any type of swampy spots. Moist soils, yeah. But not necessarily in wet areas.
There are several varities of sedge. Purple and yellow are probably the most common.I have those but there is another variety that I have (can't remember the name of it) and my deer pound it during the winter.
 

Allegheny Tom

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After doing some reading it could be sedge. I would have to go there to inspect it to be sure. Is that a problem vs grass? Will gly kill it? Sorry guys I’ve never done anything like this before.
I’ve started reading the Habitat forum throw and mow but not sure that’ll work here
Sedge can be a bit more stubborn than "grass" but there are dozens of varieties of grass. Johnson grass is a nightmare for some guys. Japanese Stilt Grass is a royal pain in the rear.
One thing about grasses is that they can be managed in an already established plot with grass-specific herbicide, whereas sedge is immune to grass herbicides.
Clethodim is an effective grass herbicide that won't destroy your wallet.
Glyphosate will kill sedge but it will probably come back and need a 2nd spraying.

Why are you skeptical about throw and mow working for you?
 

GCTerpfan

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Allegheny Tom

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Here is a guide to identify the differences between sedges, rushes and grasses. https://www.riverkeepers.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sedges_Grasses_and_Rushes_DONE.pdf

@Allegheny Tom, do the deer eat all of the sedges on your place or just that variety? And do they do it year round or just in the winter when there are limited food sources? I hadn't ever considered they might eat sedges.
It's a winter time thing for the most part but deer are in those "plots" year round.
I've been plotting for 20+ years and to be honest, the battle with invasive weeds and fickle nature is getting a little old.
I do about 6 acres and I don't see any improvement in antlers but I do see a lot of deer activity.
I think sometimes we open up a can of worms when we start tilling. We awaken the weed seeds in the soil bank and it becomes a constant struggle to fight them. I could put on tours to demonstrate weed identification, lol. But not all weeds are bad and some are highly desirable to deer.
Some species of weeds need killed as soon as you realize you have them and others are best left alone...the deer will thank you.
I'd highly recommend learning "weed" identification as a starting point with food plotting.
Don't plant something and then try to figure out what invasive you start to see and how to (or if) deal with it.
Don't expect a magazine cover type plot. If you expect a totally weed free plot then you'll be in for work, expense and frustration.
A very simple plot...
Red and white clover with cereal rye (NOT RYE GRASS!) and spray, throw and mow it 6 weeks before the 1st frost.
The clover takes longer to establish so don't expect much that 1st fall but it will take off the following spring.
 

Allegheny Tom

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Here is a guide to identify the differences between sedges, rushes and grasses. https://www.riverkeepers.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sedges_Grasses_and_Rushes_DONE.pdf

@Allegheny Tom, do the deer eat all of the sedges on your place or just that variety? And do they do it year round or just in the winter when there are limited food sources? I hadn't ever considered they might eat sedges.
Oh, and I have 3 sedges for the most part...purple, yellow, and that 3rd one (name??). They only eat that 3rd one, not the yellow or purple.
 

DE bow hunter

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Sedge can be a bit more stubborn than "grass" but there are dozens of varieties of grass. Johnson grass is a nightmare for some guys. Japanese Stilt Grass is a royal pain in the rear.
One thing about grasses is that they can be managed in an already established plot with grass-specific herbicide, whereas sedge is immune to grass herbicides.
Clethodim is an effective grass herbicide that won't destroy your wallet.
Glyphosate will kill sedge but it will probably come back and need a 2nd spraying.

Why are you skeptical about throw and mow working for you?
I haven’t read further than the first couple pages on the Habitat forum yet. The area I want to plant in isn’t exactly level. It has ruts from the tractors when they logged it off. You can’t see them in the picture. So I’m not sure if I have to level that out. I don’t need it to look pretty, but when it rains water tends to hold in those area and I doubt anything would grow. I’m going to pull and dig up the small saplings, some of those are growing out of low cut stumps. I’m also concerned with the seed to soil contact with all of the thatch already on the ground So not sure if I should rake that before I throw. Mowing is gonna be a “B” with the stumps, low spots and the high clumps of grass. If this works out this year there is a half acre area at the back of the property I will try next year.
 

Allegheny Tom

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I haven’t read further than the first couple pages on the Habitat forum yet. The area I want to plant in isn’t exactly level. It has ruts from the tractors when they logged it off. You can’t see them in the picture. So I’m not sure if I have to level that out. I don’t need it to look pretty, but when it rains water tends to hold in those area and I doubt anything would grow. I’m going to pull and dig up the small saplings, some of those are growing out of low cut stumps. I’m also concerned with the seed to soil contact with all of the thatch already on the ground So not sure if I should rake that before I throw. Mowing is gonna be a “B” with the stumps, low spots and the high clumps of grass. If this works out this year there is a half acre area at the back of the property I will try next year.
As much as we'd like to have plots, there are some spots that aren't very suitable. I'm not saying that is your situation but it's something to keep in mind when we plan. Another thing we sometimes do is to try to force a certain forage into a location. Soil composition, sunlight, pH, zone, and deer densities have to be considered. Deer density is something that a lot of plotters overlook.
Nature hates a vacuum and if too many deer numbers destroy the volume of your crop, then mother nature is going to grow something else, possibly something undesirable.
A lot of my plots are on wet slopes. Years ago, I had clover on 100% of those fields. By March the high deer numbers would have the clover eaten down to the mud which led to soil erosion. Sometimes food plots are not the best choice for the health of our land.
I'd say that the number 1 goal of plotters and farmers is to protect and nurture your top soil. Erosion really sucks.

Now, if you determine that your spots are worth plotting then don't try to rush it. Spend the summer preparing the site. Ammend soil, address weed issues, deal with shade and adjust thatch volume.

Imo, clover is king. If I was going to have only 1 forage it would be clover.
There are some clovers that do okay in damp areas. I like Balansa Fixation is a heavily seeding annual that will sustain itself for several years because it's hard seeded and it handles damp spots.
 

NATHAN

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So my wife and I just bought 11 acres to eventually build our last house. The way it lays out right now 2 acres are cleared for building the rest is woods.

The land has been logged out so it’s got good sunlight and thick cover. Looks like they left mostly immature red and white oaks. I want to put two small “test” plots in this year. I want to plant one plot on an old logging road and if it works do the same next year on the bigger area.

I’ve already bought green cover fall release seed mix. The ground is wet/ wetter so that’s not really a concern. There’s grass of some sort so my question is I’ve seen two different methods- kill the grass and broad cast seed or lay the grass down or the Buffalo method to broadcast seed and crimp it? So do it kill it, then seed and lay it down or seed and crimp it?
In my opinion, Whitetail Habitat Solutions is the best source for the answers you need. Hundreds of videos, multiple playlists. I don't know how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Good luck.
 

kbetts

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Another DE guy here. As mentioned...clover is king.

Prep your road beds and maybe a couple "turn around" spots. Get your soils right, plant, and sit back for a few years. Spend the time on the soil, eliminate competitive weeds, trim back branches for light penetration.....and keep your cover. Low browse and thick.
 

Allegheny Tom

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My apologies if this has already been asked or answered but what are your goals with the plots?
Is the road one of your access routes to/from your stands?
I would really rethink planting any type of access routes that you regularly use because you WILL educate deer to the fact that you are hunting them. Big mistake that a lot of hunters make is accessing stands thru feeding areas. An evening stand can be accessed TO the stand thru a feeding area in the afternoon but that route should be avoided at dusk.
I feel the same way about hunting directly over a plot. Unless it's a bomb proof route it's difficult to get in or out without getting busted.
Not saying you cant hunt these types of areas but you should do so on a limited basis.
 

DE bow hunter

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My apologies if this has already been asked or answered but what are your goals with the plots?
Is the road one of your access routes to/from your stands?
I would really rethink planting any type of access routes that you regularly use because you WILL educate deer to the fact that you are hunting them. Big mistake that a lot of hunters make is accessing stands thru feeding areas. An evening stand can be accessed TO the stand thru a feeding area in the afternoon but that route should be avoided at dusk.
I feel the same way about hunting directly over a plot. Unless it's a bomb proof route it's difficult to get in or out without getting busted.
Not saying you cant hunt these types of areas but you should do so on a limited basis.
Number 1 goal is to get my daughter to see more deer. She’s 8 now and this will be her third year hunting with me. We’ve seen 1 deer in the dozen or so times we have been out on public. She’s got patience to a point and I’m afraid that without seeing more deer she’s going to lose interest.

The plot is not on one of my planned access routes. I planned access and picked trees before I thought about the plots. If the plot location doesn’t fit with my hunting strategy I will not be putting a plot in. The property sets up like a rectangle. Road to the front small side. I’ll have long access on either side with one side actually being a set of train tracks. The other is the property line that I’m going to clear an easy walking path for access.

I agree 100% with your thought about taking my time and working the soil. If it doesn’t happen this year than there’s always next but I’ll be happy as long as I keep it moving forward. I also agree with the thought that some places just aren’t a good spot. Called today and I’m going to drop the soil off Tuesday to be tested. Said it would be about two week turnaround. I’ll go from there. Thanks for all your help
 

DE bow hunter

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In my opinion, Whitetail Habitat Solutions is the best source for the answers you need. Hundreds of videos, multiple playlists. I don't know how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Good luck.
Thanks yes I’ve watched Jeff, and also whitetail driven solutions, growing deer tv, strategic habitats and whitetail properties. They all have great info. Some seem more practical to implement than others.
 
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