Food Plots: Frost Seeding Clover (Episode 68 Transcript)

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BRAD: Uh, today, we’re in one of our clover food plots, and as you can see, the clover is just startin’ to really come out of its dormancy.

BRAD: The deer are starting to munch. They’re starting to come in here – starting to pick off these new, fresh little growth leaves. We’ve seen a bunch of scat, as we walked in. Our utilization cage isn’t really showing a lot of consumption, yet – basically, because the clover is just startin’ to get going.

BRAD: Clover makes up about 5 percent of our food plot strategy on The Proving Grounds. And the reason why it’s at 5 percent is because at during a couple critical times of the year, clover doesn’t do quite as well.

BRAD: We don’t have to have much more than 5 percent, because clover is fairly resistant to browsing, so a few small places located throughout the property allows every deer within the area to feed on that clover, while our other plants are germinating.

BRAD: As you can see, we’ve come down to one of our brand new, uh, ponds that we created last fall here in Clay Hill. And at this particular pond, especially during this time of year, we’re gonna do some frost seeding.

BRAD: This time of year is great for frost seeding, because you have that freeze/thawing going on every day. You have that freezing going on at night; you have the thawing going on during the day, and as it occurs, the soil moves up and down, there’s cracks formed, and any seed that you have broadcast will work down into those cracks and allow them to germinate and grow very well this spring.

BRAD: Any time I’m frost seeding this time of the year, I like to apply about twice as much seed as I normally would – at least, when it comes to clover. Normally, we apply about nine pounds per acre. Today, I want to apply about 18 pounds per acre – just because we know the soil is cool, it’s gonna take a little long to germinate. Some seeds aren’t gonna make it, some are gonna get eaten by birds or other animals, and some are, probably, gonna get washed offsite.

BRAD: When we do frost seeding, we like to use a small hard seed. That is because, in particular, hard seeds usually last a little longer out there in the environment, and also, those small seeds tend to go down into those cracks and work down in the soil better and more easily germinate. Larger seeds, like soybeans on the other hand, are a little more prone to rot and it’s also much more difficult for them to fit into these cracks and to get that adequate seed to soil contact. During frost seeding this time of the year, and not, say, earlier in the year, is important, because earlier the seeds probably aren’t gonna germinate, cause it’s a little too cold yet, and also, because birds and other animals can quickly consume your seed, before that optimum germination time comes, which is now and into the spring.

BRAD: The next thing we’re gonna add to our frost seeding here is lime. Uh, whenever we’re doing any type of food plot, we like to have a soil test to determine just how much lime we should use, but in this case, we don’t have a soil test, so we’re gonna go with a more generic approach. Uh, with that being, if we know an area is very acidic, we’ll apply about two tons per acre of lime. If it’s more of a neutral type area – like this adjacent food plot – food plot is – then, we’ll add more like a ton per acre of lime. Adding the lime during this time of year, as we’re adding the seed, is important, because it takes a long time for those larger particles of lime to breakdown and to neutralize the soil. So the more time we can give that lime to react in the soil, and to neutralize it, the better.

BRAD: Well, so far, at this site, we’ve added seed and we’ve added lime. Now, it’s just coming to adding fertilizer. We’re not gonna add fertilizer today, however, because we know that the soil is cold. We know it’s gonna take a little bit of time for that seed to work down in the soil to get some seed to soil contact and to begin germinating. So we’re gonna wait a week, or two, before we add the fertilizer, so we just have less of it, potentially, leaching through the system, or running offsite.

BRAD: For our second frost seeding, we’re gonna plant clover in Boom Pond. In this particular location, we’ve had a lot of deer come in here all last fall. We want to be able to keep a good forage in this area.

BRAD: In this pond, we did have some rye grain growing within it. That’s what I planted last fall. It’s an annual – not a big deal to have growing there, because it’s actually just gonna act as a nurse crop to give that clover an opportunity to grow and have the deer feeding on the rye, while the clover is growing.

BRAD: We did add lime today. Lime is important for neutralizing the soil’s pH. As you neutralize the pH, more nutrients are available for the plants to uptake and transfer onto your deer herd. Frost seeding is one of those important techniques that we use on a year to year basis to improve the forage quality on our property. I hope you, too, use this on your Proving Grounds. Thank you for watching