Deer hunters looking for a way to increase the availability of food on their land without spending enormous amounts of time and money on corn and sweet potatoes can start a food- plot program, and it doesn’t have to be real expensive, either. But spending money in the right places will improve productivity of plots. 

Every step in developing a food-plot program brings on challenges. At different stages, land managers need to make the right decisions to get the best from their efforts. Selecting the right herbicides and seed mixtures to picking the correct time to plant are important factors. One overlooked aspect of growing food plots is the actual planting mechanism. Too many landowners just toss out some seed and try to cover it up with re-plowing that usually buries it below the critical threshold depth.  

Some people will invest thousands of dollars on lime, fertilizer, herbicides and a specialized seed mix, but choosing the proper seed spacing and seed depth is at the top of the list to growing a thriving food plot that deer love. 

 T.J. Hallman, plantation manager at The Territories in Chappells, S.C., is a major supporter of using mechanical seed planters and drills to increase his plot yields. 

“Planting with a no-till, or grain drill allows you to get more bang for your buck,” Hallman said. “You can consistently plant the correct rate, use substantially less seed than other methods, and maximize efficiency in its growing potential by not being overcrowded.”

Overcrowding and improper seed depth are critically important to producing a healthy crop. Too many people resort to broadcasting their seed on the ground and hope to cover it with enough soil to stimulate germination. 

“We use a no-till drill. It definitely helps us achieve a well-rounded, symmetrically mixed food plot at a fraction of the seed cost by being efficient,” he said.  

Of course, seed drills and planters can be expensive, but there is always room to rent or borrow a piece of planting equipment for a day to get the seed planted at the right depth and correct spacing. 

Broadcasting alone generally wastes seed and packs in too many plants per unit area that can inhibit growth. More is not always better. Avoid broadcasting when possible to produce the best yields.