Mid-July through mid-August is the ideal time to plant brassicas in your food plots, this includes radish, kale, turnips, sugar beets among many others. These provide a leafy green top which deer will nibble from the time they sprout on in to late winter. The bulb or root is a bonus and will turn surgery once a good freeze sets in and will be a big draw in the later parts of deer season.
The tricky part of summer planting is you either get too much or too little rain and either has its issues on small green’s seeds. The seed you’ll be planting is very tiny and only needs to be firmly pressed in to the soil. This is commonly referred to as the through and grown seed as they usually find a crack or crevice to call in the first rain and that takes care of it.
The problem is if we plant the seed by simply throwing it on top of the loose soil and it becomes hot and dry it may not draw from the early morning dew and soil moisture that lies deeper. If we pack the seed in with a culti-packer or roller we may compress the seed in and if we get heavy rains, then hot weather, we create a crust the seed may not penetrate or germinate and grow through. Both can be bad situations.
By implementing what I call the 50/50 method will solve both problems. Work the dirt the best you can, then spread the seed a little heavier than the bag calls for, but not going overboard, you don’t want plant competition to result in poor growth. A rate of about 130% of what they call for is about right. After spreading the seed, I like to use a tractor, mower, or quad and drive over the plot but staggering the tire tracks to only cover 50% of the soil, leaving 50% loose (hence the 50/50 method).
By firmly packing 50 of the seed you will make sure they get that early morning dew and moisture from cooler nights but also if we get heavy rains the seeds that ride higher up in the loose soil will escape that water trough have good aeration from the side of the tire track. In most cases you’ll get good germination from both the compressed and non-compressed rows but if Mother Nature throws you a curve ball then you have a good chance of a respectable food plot in all conditions.
Until next time, God bless,
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander