One commonly asked question on planting food plots is “how deep should I plant the seed?” This is a pretty loaded question with a lot of variables.
Small Seeds: such as rape, clover, chicory, turnips, or alfalfa need very little soil covering for good germination. Often times these small seeds get disced in or planted in a field with a fluffy seed bed and the result is very poor germination. These tiny seeds just don’t contain the energy to push up through 2 inches of dirt. Ideally after working up your plots with a disc, harrow, or tiller, the field should be cultipacked in preparation for spreading these small seeds. After broadcasting onto a firm seed bed, it can then be cultipacked again to incorporate the seed into the top ¼-1/2 inch of soil. Using a light drag can also achieve this.
Large Seeds: On the other end there are large seeds like corn or LabLab for example that need 1-2 inches of good covering to get good germination. Large seeds left on the soil surface are easy food for birds and other pests and generally have very poor germ results. I have found that chain harrows with aggressive teeth work well to cover larger seed when planting with a no-till drill or planter isn’t an option. These can also be cultipacked as a last step to ensure good seed to soil contact. Everyone has different soil types and therefore different types of equipment for planting, one piece we have found that performs on a wide variety of soil types is the Firminator. This heavy-duty piece of equipment has a set of discs, accurate seeding box, and heavy cultipacker all in one unit and has the ability to plant seeds as small as clover or as big as chufa.
This tip is courtesy of the GameKeepers Field Notes, a weekly wildlife and land management email newsletter produced by the Mossy Oak GameKeepers.
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