Food Plots

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.

food plotjpgNews article for September 4, 2017

Dove hunters have had a rough go of food plots this year. Those who were able to find a dry place to plant millet back a few months ago got great growth. The problem was not being able to cut the plots due to wet weather so the doves could access the shattered grain.

Mother Nature has not cooperated with a lot of plans this year, however, it is time to get ready for the next round of planting food plots for deer and turkey.

Taking soil samples is the best management practice that a hunter or farmer can use to insure that food plots or winter pastures have an opportunity to grow to their maximum potential.

There is still plenty of time to take samples, have them analyzed and get your results back in time to plant this year.

Hunters are notorious for pushing the envelope on planting dates for food plots. They get anxious and want to plant early. Our earliest recommended planting dates for cool season forages would be for oats and those dates for south Louisiana are September 15 to October 15. Cereal rye, wheat and ryegrass are recommended to be planted September 20 to October 15 and clovers are recommended for planting here October 1 to November 15.

The biggest problem is that is it just too hot earlier in September for cool season forages to grow properly. In addition, you will have competition from all of the native forages that can choke your planted species out. Armyworms can also be a real problem and generally we have more trouble with infestations of armyworms on the earlier planted, well fertilized species. Usually the later you plant into October, the less armyworm problems you have.

Blast is a fungal disease that gets on cool season forages in hot, humid conditions. We typically see more problems with blast on early planted cool season grass species.

There are so many choices when it comes to food plots that the selection process can be overwhelming. There are lots of mixes and those can work, just make sure that the types of forages that are in the mix are recommended to grow in south Louisiana.

We know that oats, wheat, cereal rye and clover are all attractive to deer and we can grow those forages readily and have recommended varieties for Louisiana.

If I were going to plant food plots in September, I would opt for oats and clover together. If you are going to wait until mid-October, there is no real growing advantage to oats and you might want to consider planting wheat or cereal rye. Oats can take the warmer fall weather but wheat has more cold tolerance and a longer growing season.

Oats are planted at a seeding rate of 100 pounds/acre when planted alone or 60 pounds in a mixture. Recommended varieties include RAM LA 99016, TAMO 411 and TAMO 606.

Cereal rye and wheat seed are planted at 90 pounds per acre alone or 50 and 60 pounds respectively when in a mixture. Recommended cereal rye varieties include Elbon, Maton, Maton II, Oklon and Wintergrazer 70. LSU has not tested any forage wheat varieties recently.

Clovers increase the quality of any food plot or pasture. I have seen both white and red clovers perform well in our area. White clover is seeded at 5 pounds/acre in a pure stand and 3 pounds in a mix while red clover is seeded at 12 pounds alone and 8 pounds in a mix.

Recommended white clover varieties would include LA S-1, Osceola, Regalgraze, Pinnacle, Duranta and Neches. Red clover recommended varieties would include Kenland, Kenstar, Cherokee, Southern Bell and AU Red Ace. Plant clover at the same time you plant your other cool season forages, clover will just germinate a little later.

For more information on these or other related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at

5/9/2018 4:28:53 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture