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GRANT: It is late August and most whitetail hunters are like me. They’re kind of in a frenzy getting ready for deer season.
GRANT: Now those guys and gals in south Florida and coastal South Carolina, they’re already deer hunting – hard as that is to imagine. But the rest of us – it’s time to get ready because we’ll be up in a stand soon.
GRANT: One of the big things this time of year that most folks are thinking about are food plots. But, this year, well, it’s slightly different than a lot of years.
GRANT: Here in the Midwest, a giant high-pressure system has been sitting over much of the area. The high-pressure system has made temperatures nice. Gosh, this morning here at The Proving Grounds, I’m comfortable in a long sleeve shirt.
GRANT: But, one of the bad things about high-pressure systems is there’s no rain. No rain during planting season, well, that can be a huge problem.
GRANT: Even though the calendar says its time to plant here at The Proving Grounds. Our first frost is about October 15th to October 18th on average, and I like to plant 45 to 60 days before that first frost.
GRANT: So, here we are August 15th and later. It’s planting time; the seed drill is calibrated but it’s sitting in the shop.
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GRANT: We’ve got to remember that seeds are living organisms and putting ‘em in the ground right now, and it could get hot again. So, a hot, dry environment is not good. They’re holding on. They’re using all the energy they can to wait until the conditions are right to germinate. And if that energy gets too short, well, when it germinates, that plant is weak or the seed dies before it germinates.
GRANT: You may be asking, “Well, Grant, why don’t I plant because seed is stored for months before it’s purchased?” And that’s true. It is stored. But, hopefully, it’s stored in a cool, dry place. Not out here where that soil can get really warm in the midday sun.
GRANT: I would rather have fewer days of growing time before that first frost and have a stronger, healthier plant than a plant that developed from a stressed-out seed.
GRANT: When I look at the national weather map hoping rain is headed towards The Proving Grounds, I notice that the southeastern states are receiving a lot of rain. Boy, that’s good. I’m a little bit envious.
GRANT: It would be tempting to plant if I was there, but in much of that area it’s too early. If you’re in those states, you want to wait until it’s later. Again, 60 days before the first frost or if you’re far enough south that it’s not going to frost, you want to wait until about October or so before you plant.
GRANT: Several reasons – one of ‘em being – if the daylight is so long, plants have a relatively fast maturity rate like turnips. Well, they could grow so quickly, they put up that big seed head and bolt and they won’t provide high-quality forage throughout the winter.
GRANT: Another huge reason not to plant early in the deep south is armyworms. Gosh, if you plant early while they’re still active, they can come into a food plot and literally wipe it out overnight.
GRANT: If you’re in that middle zone getting a lot of moisture and its only 60 days until the first frost, I hope you’re planting away. Otherwise, you probably ought to be doing what we’re doing. It’s so dry here, we’re doing a little prescribed fire to improve native vegetation, hanging stands, working our trail cameras and shooting bows.
GRANT: I’ve seen a couple of years when we’re still planting food plots when season opens September 15th here at The Proving Grounds. Everyone dreams about having that lush food plot to go hunt during the early season before the acorns are falling. But if it’s so dry, I would rather wait and make sure my food plots are successful so I’ve got them throughout the season, than try to rush it and have a failure.
GRANT: I love food plots. But if conditions aren’t right, that means some other resource is limited. And if it’s really dry, water may be the key to tagging that early season buck.
GRANT: And if these conditions don’t change, you can bet I’ll be hanging in a Summit watching water September 15th.
GRANT: No matter the conditions, it’s always great to get outside and enjoy Creation. But more importantly, we need to take time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to us.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.