-By Randy Cooper
It seems that we are going from one extreme to the other with the weather. Last summer, here in Georgia, we were in a severe drought that hurt native vegetation, mast bearing and soft fruit bearing trees and bushes. Gardens withered up and died because of the lack of rain and the endless heat. Food plots really took a hit for the same reason. Vegetable gardens were exempt from the watering bans but not food plots for wildlife. They suffered and most didn’t produce very well.
So far this year it seems to be turning around. We’ve had regular, good-soaking rains as well as some of the most violent weather I have ever seen here in Georgia. A couple of weekends ago we had 22 confirmed tornado touchdowns in less than 16 hours. They even hit downtown Atlanta, which had never seen a tornado in the city’s history. It’s been crazy.
Anyway, it’s time to plant food plots for the spring. So far I’ve prepared my places by doing a total kill using herbicide through Moultrie’s Deluxe Boomless sprayer. It really works well and I’ll talk about my experiences with it in a future entry. Prior to spraying, I took a soil sample and adjusted the PH in the soil by broadcasting pelletized lime with my spreader, also a great tool from Moultrie. The amount of lime you put out depends on the results of the soil test. In my case I put out about 350 pounds for the half-acre sized plot I’ll be planting. I did this back in January to give the lime plenty of time to leach into the soil to have its sweetening affects.
I fertilized the plot with a common 10-10-10 all-purpose fertilizer and worked it in by tilling it under. I’ll do this one more time before planting.
For spring and summer I’ll be planting a combination of iron and clay peas, several rows of corn, two kinds of clover with different maturity times and chicory. I hope for plenty of rain resulting in a large yield. This combo will have lots of protein for does that will be fawning, for the fawns after weaning and for bucks growing their new antlers. As things get out of the ground, I’ll be using a monitoring cage that will allow me to tell how much use the new plants are getting. This is a good combination and it will be interesting to see how well the deer like it. I hope for rain and no more droughts. I’ll be preparing several different size plots the same way on this property. Time will tell if all the work will pay off. I’ll say a little prayer and keep my fingers crossed.