Retaining Moisture in Food Plots

Discussion in 'Quality Deer Management' started by firehog, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. firehog

    firehog Well-Known Member

    Not having the no-till drill options, I was wondering if anyone has ever scattered hay over your plots to retain moisture longer? I have a few plots on top of ridges that seem to dry out within a day of rain. For the most part I planted corn in these plots and keep the weeds at bay. This year I planted sunflowers and johnson grass took it over. So I bush hogged it all down and left a good amount of clippings on top. I came back and disked it up. Now for this areas that had high clippings I think I will do good in those areas keeping poisture. But other areas didn't have has much clippings and was thinking of sowing seed and scattering hay on top and cultipack it down. I'm not talking about thick layer but just enogh to cover bare dirt.
     
  2. hawgpharm

    hawgpharm Well-Known Member

    I think it could help, but you may also get some unwanted seed in the hay. Have you looked at the "throw and mow" plantings that some are doing? It is the same concept as what you are talking about but you use the vegetation that is growing instead of hay.
     

  3. firehog

    firehog Well-Known Member

    No I haven't. I'll check it out.
     
  4. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

    If you have already disked, it my be too late for throw and mow - but the idea behind throw and mow is to seed into the stand vegetation that is currently there, then mow it down after seeding and the mowed vegetation acts to hold moisture - like the hay you are thinking about using.
     
  5. firehog

    firehog Well-Known Member

    Ok gotcha. But yes I have already disked. I mainly want to help my radish and turnips as much as I can and I've never tried putting hay or straw over it. Wheat and oats I can go back and broadcast over. Which I'll probably end up doing anyways if it drys out in sept or oct.
     
  6. firehog

    firehog Well-Known Member

    I ended up testing about a half acre. I had 6 old square bales of hay and just put a nice layer out. Don't know if you can tell or not, but that area is much thicker. ImageUploadedByArkansas Hunting1505271867.878585.jpg ImageUploadedByArkansas Hunting1505271899.302835.jpg
     
  7. dogdoc

    dogdoc Well-Known Member

    No tilling definitely is a great practice.

    If no till isn't an option your next best bet is cultipacking. Compressing the top couple inches will help some.

    No way would I top dress with hay or straw that would just introduce tons of weed seed that I don't want. However, if you're able to get clean (weed free) wheat straw that might be a decent too dressing that won't re-seed.

    Personally though I think you'd be better off to choose your plot type wisely. Some things are just better in dryer conditions. Also, make sure ph and fertilizer are covered well so that the greens grow well when they do have adequate moisture.

    Food plot planning can certainly be challenging.
     
    bullcreekboy likes this.
  8. firehog

    firehog Well-Known Member

    Dogdoc, I certainly thought about the weed seed being introduced. I think I had 3 bales that were straw and 3 hay, and they were about 4 years old so I kinda hoped the seed from the hay would be dead. And if not, I'll just spray it next year. This is actually a new dozed out plot and I've been spraying it all summer to try to kill the regrowth sweetgum trees.