Now I understand as I type this many of those reading this in the Midwest or Northern parts of this great country have already broken ground and broadcast seed most likely. However, on the chance you have not done so or find yourself in the portion of the country where you are preparing to break ground take note because I do not want you to make the mistakes thousand are or will very soon.
You see I'm of the mindset if you are taking the time to put in a food plot, this whole deer hunting thing is more than just a weekend type thing and is a serious passion which has infected you like it has so many others. It is with that assumption that I cannot stand to see the continued food plot failings of so many every single year coming across my social media or through various forums everywhere I turn.
Put extremely blunt, far too many folks seem to have this blind faith approach to food plots. Trusting the gimmicks or bags of seeds...blindly trusting the advice of dimwits (for lack of a better term) on the internet by skipping soil tests because we all know they're overrated anyways (right?) and refusing to fertilize our plots because Billy Bob from Alabama claims fertilizer isn't needed [insert lush plot of ryegrass picture proving his point].
Let's first break down this blind faith into the three most likely scenarios I see played out every single year by folks; faith in the seed, faith in internet experts and faith in the "better than nothing" mindset.
BLIND FAITH IN THE SEED
This is perhaps the one many point to as the first reason for failure of success but that is driven more by company bias than anything. Let's be honest, while good quality seed plays a large role in success (why I use RWWP), the seed alone will not prep the soil, amend the soil or properly prepare the location of the plot. For many though they simply grab a bag of seed off the local pro shop's shelves or big box store racks because "x" celebrity is on it or it has a massive buck on the bag so it MUST be good right? Well the sad fact is the seed game, while good exist, is riddled with seed companies worried more about the all mighty dollar than putting forth a good solid product or products. Just the other day I saw someone declaring how glorious "brand x" special no-till blend was just amazing with how thick and awesome it was coming up. Over 80% of this mix is nothing more than the ryegrass found anywhere around the US. Let me make one thing extremely clear: if the mix involves ryegrass or a bunch of "inert" ingredients RUN FROM THE MIX AS FAST AS YOU CAN!
Another shame I've watched with my own eyes are folks simply ordering seed at the local Ag supply store (or online distributor ANYONE can buy from), re-bag it, slap some deer logo on it and mark it up for a profit. We all spend far too much time and money to waste our hard earned cash on a terrible seed or run of the mill seed we ourselves are privy to down the street.
In the end remember there is no magic seed or seed blend which will spring forth with a lush-highly nutritious plot all on its own.
BLIND FAITH IN THE INTERNET EXPERTS
Everywhere we turn these days we run into opinions. Often times they were neither sought out or asked for, they simply get forced into our views on a daily basis. That alone would not be a concern, but the onslaught of so many of them has clouded everyone's judgement and ability to discern what is fact or fiction anymore for those truly looking for what the best process to plot success is. My biggest piece of advice before picking ANY kind of product out there is to research, research and research some more. Don't just look for how many folks on a company's pro-staff has had success but listen to why? How did the seed of company "x" make a difference? Watch for folks that truly did side by side comparisons of products and are not connected to either.
Another little tidbit is study the characteristics of the ingredients or exact seed types rather than just the blend. What makes up "insert blend" and why would it make sense for your desired application and location (both geographical and physical)? Those are just a few of the things I think anyone that truly cares about what their plots are producing and the deer consuming will ask themselves before blindly following Billy Bob's advice on I'm The Bee's Knees At Plotting (fake name for this article only...at least I hope it isn't real).
It does not stop at the seed selection though, plotters have got to start paying attention to soil amendments and how they play a crucial part in the success of a food plot. Honestly, you can have high quality seed, put in tons of effort prepping the seed bed and get an ample amount of rain after planting and still have a plot which fails to meet its full potential due to ignoring proper pre or post planting soil amendments as recommended by not only the companies we all buy seed from but also from anyone in the agriculture or horticulture industry. Lime and fertilizer may seem like an added expense which you can skimp on (Billy Bob approves), but very well may be the reason why your plots fail to put on the tonnage you desire or even in extreme cases reach maturity or grow at all.
BLIND FAITH IN THE "BETTER THAN NOTHING" CONCEPT
I used to use this phrase all the time. I mean truly how is planting something not better than planting nothing? Well, you would be shocked to learn that often times the best thing to do for food on a property is not clearing and planting a cool season food plot. This is especially true if you don't do any or all of the following; proper soil test, select high quality seed, plant properly or amend the soil as needed. Sad truth that many food plot companies don't want you to realize is the fact mother nature in many ways can provide just as much tonnage in food with native browse and forbes than some food plots will ever provide. Taking it a step further, a properly maintained or controlled early successional growth in an area can further separate native browse and forbes from food plots put in by human hands. So no, anything is not better than doing nothing...mother nature in many ways has proven time and time again she can take care of the animals as she did long before humans started implementing food plots or row crops into the landscape.
So...you want to put in a food plot, great! Just make sure you don't fall into the trap of having blind faith in anything discussed above or else you are on a collision course with failure and disappointment most likely.
Have faith in the seed you choose, the steps you take and the knowledge you gathered...if you do not, perhaps food plotting simply isn't going to be your thing.
God bless and good luck out there!