I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking if it is time to plant warm season food plots yet. There are many variables that should be considered before answering this question. I usually use corn as a guide because corn is more tolerant of colder soil and air temperatures that most food plot crops except clover.
Little if any seed germination and seedling growth occurs in soils with temperatures less than 46F. Warmer soil temperatures facilitate seed germination and seedling growth with the optimum being when the soil is a constant 86F. However, drought and heat stress is much more common when the soil temperature is 86F. Therefore corn, soybeans, peas, and most other forage crops should be planted with the soil temperature at 2” to 4” deep at 60F.
However, simply knowing the current soil temperature is not enough to begin planting. That’s because once the seed begins to germinate, a significant change in soil temperature can cause problems. Research shows that a swing of soil temperatures of 27F (soil high temperature-soil low temperature) will significantly affect seed or seedling growth. Seed placed into the ground, yet not emerged, can be injured from a cold period. Seedlings can also have stunted and distorted leaves or may not emerge from the soil.
Given the current conditions and the forecast throughout much of the whitetails’ range for cool-wet weather, the best place for seed this week, if the property you manage is north of the Mason/Dixon line, is probably in the bag.
Growing Deer together,