Establishing Chicory

By GrowingDeer,

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Dear Grant,

I planted a one acre food plot with BioLogic Maximum last August.  It was the best food plot I have ever planted as far as growing a full lush field that really attracted deer.  My 15 year old son and I both killed very nice 2 1/2 year old bucks off this field with compound bows, one 9 pt. 176 lb. and one 8 pt. 165 lb. buck.  A friend also scored on a 2 1/2 year old 8 pt. in archery season, as well as two relatives killing nice 2 1/2 year old 8 pt. bucks in rifle season.  All of these on just 80 acres in southeast Pennsylvania, 3 of them off this food plot.

It worked so well I was tempted to replant the field again this fall, but decided instead to take advantage of the present conditions of the ground to do a frost seeding, saving time and money on tilling.  I will plow and plant my other food plot with BioLogic Maximum this fall.  I am planning to frost seed a mix of white ladino clover and red clover, a mix that has worked for me in the past.  However, I would love to also establish chicory or alfalfa in addition to the clover mix.  In the past, I had once tried frost seeding both chicory and alfalfa with poor results.  Is it worth trying again, or is there something else you recommend frost seeding?  Based on my results with conventional planting, I would like to establish chicory in with the clovers.  I do not have a no-till planter and must till before spring or fall plantings, which is a lot of work.

I appreciate any advice or recommendations you can give.




Wow – sounds like some great hunting on your farm last season!!  Congratulations!

Clover is easily established using the frost seeding method (GDTV 68).  However, alfalfa rarely can be established as well using that technique.  Alfalfa germinates best when there is a firm seedbed and very good seed to soil contact.  This is rarely the case when frost seeding.

Chicory is a softer seed and often will crack or rot before germinating when planted when frosts are still occurring.  To establish a good stand of either alfalfa or chicory, you will need to either till or use a no-till drill once the soil temperatures warm up a bit.  Many counties rent no-till drills so be sure and check with the local county extension or NRCS office.

As I write this, there is snow covering portions of Pennsylvania.  I’ve established great stands of clover by spreading it directly into late season snows and letting the seed be placed by the melting snow.

Growing Deer (and crops) together,