On a budget, a couple things to consider.
With the crazy times we are going through, many of you might be suffering hardships. A great way to deal with the great unknowns of the moment is being out in nature. Food plotting can accomplish many things on your property. No matter your goals or strategy, there are ways to be more efficient with your 2020 plantings.
The concepts are simple, what grows the fastest is most palatable earliest. What lasts the longest, takes more time to establish and is not as desirable as early. What yields the highest, requires the most fertilization or nutrient uptake to grow to it’s potential. With that being said there are some things I’m educating my client base on to be more “efficient.”
Plant more annual clovers. Two of the highest yielding clovers are also the two most desirable forages to whitetail. These two annual clovers also stay green below zero. There are also new annual clovers that I have tested the past few years that are great at handling what mother nature will throw at us. Do we know if it’s going to be hot or cold? Are we going to have a wet year or dry year? A three-way annual clover mix I have put together helps better handle what mother nature will throw at us. Why consider annual clover blends? Because they can be established in the early spring and be left all season. You also could do “minimum” tillage or no till to get these established.
Annual clovers also explode out of the ground and establish a dense sward faster than most forages. This reduces weed pressures. If you can get annual clovers planted early enough, they will become established before some of the later spring weeds begin to flush. You might not even need to use any post plant herbicides. The fuel and expenses of weed control can add up. This is a step we can all possibly avoid.
Seed is cheap. No matter what one plants seed typically costs $30-$90 per acre. With annual clovers we are typically in the $50 per acre range. Proper fertilizations will run $60-120 per acre. If you decide to plant a higher yielding mix, you will need to spend more money on fertilizers, right? Consider this. A liquid nutrient program.
I have formulated liquid plant foods for decades and now is the time I’m trying to hammer home the many benefits of a liquid program, especially for those on a budget. It can be as low as $40 per acre if one uses a liquid seed starter and a 1-2 pass foliar application. If you are someone with less than ideal soil pH’s and worrying about buying lime, this is one way to connect the nutrients to the plant. That is an area most are unaware. That is the problem with low ph’s. You can circumvent the roots by applying the foliar to the plant leaves. Once absorbed by the leaves, the nutrients flow through the plant and connect to the roots as well.
Being on a budget doesn’t mean find “cheap seed.” Cheap seed typically doesn’t come with any expertise. Cheap seed also might be expensive seed if it has lower germ counts, higher weed seed counts and is planted in the wrong place at the wrong time doing it the wrong way. Now is the time to know what your planting, know how to do better with what you have. Maybe this year you should have a goal of doubling your yields. Perhaps you can plant less and get more? Maybe you can get more and as a result supplement less? Whether on a budget or not, very few food plotters are getting anywhere near the potential of what is inside the bags of seed you purchase. That’s my life and my world. I am here to help. Be well and be safe.