I posted earlier my food plot plans for the 2019 hunting season. Mother Nature had other ideas and now I am forced to adjust as we enter the summer time frame.
The abnormal wet conditions hampered my attempt to get a spring plot in this year. Yeah, I tried but ended up getting my tractor stuck in the soft ground when trying to mow and till the existing plot. I have friends that are farmers who share pictures on social media about their tractors being stuck in hay fields while trying to harvest the hay. It is been an off year weather-wise, so we are left with little to do but shift gears and adjust.
We are in June and my first priority is getting my Egyptian Wheat in the ground so that I have a good plot screen from neighboring properties. I had good luck broadcasting Egyptian wheat last season with plants reaching seven to eight feet in height. Those plants were planted later that I would have liked but still took hold and provided adequate cover for my small food plot. I hope by getting the Egyptian wheat in earlier this year I will have an even larger screen in 2019.
Next, I am moving on to weed management. Last season I sprayed roundup and killed the plot. I cut it short and roughed up the dirt to plant. Initially, I had great results, but soon the weeds emerged and they were thick in places. Because I am not plating until later in the summer/early fall, I plan on attacking the weeds in the plot by tilling multiple times. I know that tilling brings weed seed up and allows for germination. However, tilling multiple times will reduce the organic matter on the surface and kill many of the weeds before they go to seed. By tilling the ground up I am essentially cultivating much like you do in a garden and removing weed matter prior to planting. Well, that is my theory at least. I will keep a close eye on how this progresses once the ground is dry enough to till.
Soil samples will be taken this week to determine pH and soil content. I am targeting a 6.5 to 7 pH on the plot to support the fall crops I will be planting. Depending on the available Nitrogen, Phosphorus an Potassium in the soil I will add 10-10-10 fertilizer when I till along with any lime to balance the soil pH numbers.
My actual planting will be early to middle August and hopefully be timed with good rain. I broadcast my seed and pack with an empty lawn roller to firm the seedbed. However, rain in August to provide moisture and drive seed into the soil is the X-factor when planting this time of year. August is historically a very dry month in North East Ohio and everyone knows you need moisture to grow crops. I will be robbing the soil of moisture by tilling over and over and relying on Mother Nature to provide rain to aid in crop production.
My seeds plans are still up in the air as I need a set of fast germinating, fast-growing seeds that provide food into December and January. I am considering a blend of turnips, radishes, and brassica but have yet to determine what types and what ratio in my small 1/4 acre plot. My thoughts are till and get it ready, then pick my plants based off how well I get the soil conditioned. It is hard to grow plants if the soil isn’t quite right, so I will pick my plants to match my soil conditions, hoping for good results.
The wet weather has drowned my plans for a spring/summer food plot but I am not out of the game for the fall. Turning a bad thing into a good thing is part of the hunting process and this year’s food plot is no exception. I have an opportunity to work the plot and reduce weeds and set myself up for a fantastic fall/winter plot for the 2019 season. I just need Mother Nature to cooperate.