Summer is upon us and many gamekeepers are starting to get the fever for the fall hunting season. If you have a new lease or have acquired some new property to hunt you may have some new opportunities for places to establish a food plot. A question we are often asked is how do I clear a new food plot or reclaim an old field and turn it into a productive food source?
The first step is to assess the type of material that will need to be removed before you can think about working the soil. This can include brush, small trees, dead trees and blow downs, or simply just a lot of tall and overgrown weeds and grasses.
Once you see what kind of debris will need to be removed you can line up the equipment needed. One great piece of machinery we have found can make short work out of small trees, brush, thickets, and weeds is the Vail X Series Brush Cutter. These extreme duty attachments are designed for track or skid steer loaders and make short work out of even the toughest clearing jobs. For heavier brush or larger trees that may be in the way, Vail’s hydraulic tree saw rotates 180 degrees and can cut trees off at ground level.
Once you have everything removed from your new plot, you can start thinking about pre-planting soil prep and what and when to plant. To kill any existing low growing grasses or weeds, spray with a non selective herbicide like 41% glyphosate, if you have woody plants and brush use a herbicide like triclopyr. Neither of these herbicides have any residual activity in the soil and are great for preparation.
With the plot cleared and sprayed, it is time to get a soil sample taken to see what nutrients and pH levels you will be dealing with. Agricultural lime can take several months to fully break down, so get the appropriate amount added as soon as you get your sample results. Vail’s Land Planer can be used to create a great textured soil surface to spread your lime onto, the Land Planer can then be used again to incorporate the lime into the soil.
Now it’s time to start looking at what you want to plant, fertilization recommendations, and the proper time to get it in. A planting guide is available at to help you pick the right blend for your region and situation.