Plan for Success
The first question I see asked by people on social media or at events is "What should I plant?" I normally pause for a moment before continuing. I then either email or ask the person several questions to get a better handle of what they are working with. I want to get a handle on their needs and goals. The result would be a vision for long term success.
Seed is a start, but seed's importance is from when one plants it until it germinates. At that point their job is done. That is when roots become the "engine." As the forage grows, there are various factors that come into play as to the success of the planting. Here is what I want people to consider, beyond the seed.
1) Geographic location in the US.
2) Physical location and description on one's property.
A) Is the area sloped?
B) Is the area shady?
C) Is the area in a wet area?
D) Is the area an open field?
3) How large of area is intended to be planted?
4) What are the surrounding properties like?
A) Do they plant ag fields?
B) Do they plant food plots?
C) Do they manage their properties?
5) What equipment do you have?
6) What experience level do you have with planting?
7) What are your current deer density numbers?
8) How much surrounding deer hunting pressure is there?
9) Have you taken any recent soil samples?
10) What are your goals?
After getting answers to the above questions I try to rewire people's brains. I get them to try to create a vision. I help my clients establish a short term and long-term plan. That plan might involve bringing in other team members and specialists in the areas of water quality and forest management. The process begins.
Anything one plants has pros and cons. Any forage has a certain level of growth potential under ideal conditions. Every forage has a maturity. Every forage has a desirability at different points during its growth cycle and time of year. What I want people to do a better job is learning about how forages grow and how they affect future years plantings in that area.
All wildlife need 365 a year nutrition. In some areas of the US we have challenges such as snow depth and frigid temperatures. In the deer south we can have heat and drought challenges at times during the year. Mother nature always comes into play no matter where one lives. We cannot ever assume perfect growing conditions throughout the year. That is rare. We might experience a series of swings. We could see periods of cold, followed by a period of dry and then ending up with a period of extreme wet or floods. This is why mother nature always needs to be considered when one plants the selected species you plant.
There are cool season annuals and warm season annuals. Each doing better during those times of year. There are perennials that are cool season as well as perennials that do handle the warmer seasons as well. There are both annual and perennial forages that are colder tolerant than others. Knowing your forage and its traits really helps in the planning. So many people make mistakes in mixing cool season annuals with warm season annuals. I am not saying it won’t work at all. I am saying you are not being efficient in accomplishing your goals.