Fall planting time is upon us
Aug. 24, 2001
After a long hot summer, the hunting season is almost here. The opening day of dove season, which falls on the first weekend of September, signals the beginning of what is traditionally a long and bountiful season.
Mississippi is blessed with an abundance of woodlands just teeming with wildlife. The magnificent whitetail deer is perhaps the most sought after animal in our state. Certainly it has become one of our most popular hunting sports.
Many hunters will head to the dove fields with fellowship and stories of past hunts on their minds. Although dove hunting provides a chance for everyone to get back into the woods once again, it pales in comparison to deer hunting. Many hunters dove hunt only one or two days, but deer season lasts approximately 4 months in one form or another.
Most of the outdoorsmen in our area hunt in places that are made up of mostly pine plantations and cutover areas. This leaves the deer with little or nothing to eat once the cold kills off the natural vegetation. In past years, before most of the virgin hardwood forests disappeared, the deer relied on mast crops to get them through the hard winters. Today that is simply not the case in most locations.
Modern hunters must provide the deer with supplemental crops to help them survive the winters. To most folks this means hard work. Nothing ever comes easy in the outdoors and most clubs or hunters will have to put in a lot of elbow grease before the hunting even begins. In addition to reworking old tree stands and checking them for safety, everyone must pitch in and prepare food plots or green fields.
Traditionally a lot of hunters in Mississippi plant a combination of rye grass, wheat, oats and clover. Some folks plant them separately while others plant in combination. But before the planting begins the fields must be bush hogged and the ground broken up. After tilling the soil to a fine consistency, you are ready to plant.
Lately many seed companies have come up with their own mixture of seeds for planting. Mossy Oak, headquartered in West Point, makes one of the hot products on the market today. Although most of these companies probably have good products, the jury is still out on many of them.
While some area hunters are planting various new mixtures of seeds, others stick with the tried and true plantings that have yielded good results in the past. Most likely different soils or areas of the state are more suited to one variety of seeds than others. This is where a variety of seeds mixed together may have the advantage over using just one type.
I know some people who swear by rye grass only, while others prefer wheat and still others prefer oats. Perhaps just as important as the type or mixture of seeds is the fertilization process. If the soil is not prepared with just the right amount of fertilizer and lime, then the planting will be for naught. The green fields may grow tall and look good, but if they don't have the minerals and nutrients to make the grass tender and "sweet," the deer won't bother them.
Probably the best thing for every landowner or club to do would be to take a soil sample and have it tested to find out what the soil needs. Suffice it to say that most food plots in our area probably don't have enough lime if lime hasn't been put out in the recent past. Most county extension offices can give you the name of someone who will take your soil sample and either test it or send it off for testing.
At this point, it is anybody's guess which products are superior for planting in our area. Most of the time we only learn from trial and error. If anybody has had good results with some of the new mixtures, we would like to hear from you. In the meantime, get those soil samples and head to the woods to prepare for planting and hunting. Once that succulent venison is on the table, it will all have been worth it! (Contact Mike Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org.)