Summer is often thought of as when deer thrive in luscious green forage. That can be true if an area has abundant habitat. However, many hunting properties lack quality habitat. If your property is heavily forested of full of thick hardwood saplings, then a summer food plot can go a long way in adding quality nutrition during a critical growing season.
Summer food plots can be crucial to deer health during the summer. Bucks are growing antlers and fawns are being born. Finding the right plants to offer deer can be the most challenging part. Let’s look at what to plant for summer food plots and some tips to consider.
What Is a Good Food Plot for Deer in the Summer?
Common warm-season seed combinations of legumes and grasses can offer various benefits such as taste, protein, vertical height and production quantities. At the same time, they will help the herd stay healthy, maintain a good weight and grow larger antlers.
Below are some excellent examples of what you should plant in your summer food plot for deer:
- Soybeans: Grow well in dry areas, extract important minerals and are high in protein. Deer also love soybeans, so be sure that you have several acres or more to dedicate or the crop will likely be wiped out before growing much.
- Chicory: Grow deep taproots that draw minerals from the soil and keep the plot green and lush. Chicory is also low maintenance and will continue to grow back each year.
- Sunflowers: Provide strong vertical growth for vining soybeans and peas and are a good source of protein.
- Grain Sorghum: Holds up well against invasive weeds and is less expensive than others. However, it will not provide nutrition during the summer. It will form seed heads that deer and turkey will devour during the winter months.
- White Clover: Clover is typically planted in the fall in the South and spring in the colder climates. It is a high protein food that deer and turkey love and will continue to grow all summer with adequate moisture.
- Summer Blends: There are numerous summer blends that can be planted. Whitetail Institute’s Power Plant is a blend of vining forage soybeans and peas combined with sunn hemp. The sunn hemp is high in protein but also grows tall so that the vining beans can climb up them. This blend does extremely well in smaller plots as it grows fast and outcompetes deer grazing it to the ground, all while providing a high-protein food source.
3 Tips to Help You Plant a Summer Food Plot
Now that you’ve chosen which plant to put in your food plot, it’s time to create it. When going to start a summer food plot for deer, consider these tips:
- Conduct a soil test first: To conduct a soil test, you need to take samples of the soil from a dozen or so areas around the plot. Use a clean shovel and clean bucket to do this. Don’t collect soil samples while the ground is water logged, instead wait until it dries out a bit. Walk in a zigzag pattern through the plot collecting the top 5 to 6 inches of soil and place in the bucket. Don’t mix in vegetation and organic matter, only soil. Once you’ve collected a dozen or more samples mix them together well in the bucket and collect enough soil to fill a Ziplock sandwich bag full of soil. Next mark the bag with the name of the plot collected from. Do this for each plot and then send it off with the proper forms to your local soil analysis facility. Find your sate’s soil test facility.
- Follow your soil test results: Once you receive your soil test results, don’t ignore them. They are the keys to your plot’s success. A soil test might reveal that your plot needs a literal ton of lime per acre. This is crucially important not only to the crops growth but its ability to take up nutrients in order to be a quality food source. The soil analysis will also tell you how much and what kind of fertilizer to use.
- Weed Control: Weeds will be an issue in a summer food plot. Grasses and broadleaf weeds will grow along with your food plot seeds. If they grow unchecked they will quickly outcompete your desired crop. When buying your seed be sure to talk to the seller about proper weed control options, which usually require spraying a liquid herbicide. If young weeds are sprayed early, then your crops will take over and shade out future weed competition. However, it’s important that you choose a herbicide that won’t hurt your crop, but will kill weed competition.
Use Your Trail Camera at Your Summer Food Plot
Planting a food plot is an effective way to check in on the deer in your area. You can set these trail cameras around these plots to look at which bucks survived the hunting season, which plants they prefer, feeding times and movement patterns across your land.
Moultrie Mobile can provide you with innovative technology you can use at your summer food plots to keep an eye on the deer in your region and gather important information you’ll need for hunting season. Using a cellular trail camera will also allow you to see how well your new plot is growing, even if you live hours away from your hunting property. Take a look at our selection of cellular trail cameras and get yours today!
Tim Davis draws outdoor-themed cartoons found on Moultrie Mobile’s social channels, in its newsletters and in other publications. However, there’s much more to this talented cartoonist who daylights as an auto-mechanic for a religious community in Chicago, when he’s not hunting coyotes. Check out Tim’s story here!
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