Clipping Food Plots

Clipping your food plots

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So many people ask me questions about clipping their food plots. Clipping is very important and there are several factors to look at. The old saying echoed by the cattle grazing community was “take half, leave half.” The rationale for this was anytime you take more than half of a forages growth, your starting to shut down the roots. Everyone looks at top growth as important but it all starts with the roots. The roots are the powerhouse. The roots are the source of uptake of nutrients and water.

I attached a charge showing how the removal of forage at various percentages affects the plant. As you can see, anything over 70% removal is extremely detrimental to a plant. My tip is to try to never clip any lower than 6” to the ground. Here is another factor that comes into play. You have forages that grow at different heights. You have the shorter growing clovers like white dutch and intermediate clovers that are only half as tall as the medium red clovers and other legumes like alfalfa. Alfalfa can easily grow to be over 36” tall. If you have alfalfa, berseem clover or other legumes that are 24” tall and you clip them down to 6” from the ground, you are removing over 75% of the plant and that will result in a slowing of the regrowth, even though you still left 6” of plant.

The Four Grazing Factors: Grazing Intensity Effects on the Individual Plant

Percent Leaf Volume Removed Percent Root Growth Stoppage

10% ........................................ 0%

20% ........................................ 0%

30% ........................................ 0%

40% ........................................ 0%

50% ......................................2-4%

60% ...................................... 50%

70% ...................................... 78%