Golden Rule: When in doubt of what, when, where or how to plant, check with your county extension agent or Department of Natural Resources.
Wildlife Planting Tips
When Should I Plant?
Click below to view a planting guide based on the zone you live in.
These charts made especially for Cooper’s Seed and Feed by
Kent Kammermeyer, Senior Wildlife Biologist
Choose Your Wildlife Seed Carefully and Wisely
Cooper Seed Company wants its customers satisfied and informed! We take pride in offering the highest quality seed at competitive prices. For folks planting wildlife food plots, the choices of seed to buy seem almost endless. Even when deciding on one species, wheat, for example, there are many varieties to chose from and the decision to buy certified seed or something cheaper.
Let’s see if we can make seed purchasing decisions a little simpler when buying wheat, rye, oats or ryegrass. Certified seed is inspected by GA (or other state) Dept. of Agriculture in the field and in the warehouse. The genetic purity of the variety is guaranteed, it is free of noxious weeds, conforms to weed free standards, and has a minimum guaranteed germination level (usually 80-90% depending on the species). Some varieties are noted for high grazing production, some for seed production and some for disease resistance.
Combine run seed has no standards, no inspection, no guarantees and no regulation. Cooper Seed Company does not sell combine run seed. It is straight from the farmer’s combine machine and can be bought in bag or bulk. Its obviously cheaper but can carry some significant risks that may affect the success of your food plot. Noxious weeds and other weeds including little barley, cheatgrass, rescuegrass, wild ryegrass, wild turnip and dock can sometimes or often times be found mixed with the small grain seed. These weed seeds got picked by the combine as they grew with the crop and never got removed. Some can cause serious weed problems in your plots.
Feed seed or re-cleaned seed is a third category that is cheap but it also has no regulation, no guaranteed germination and a risk of noxious weeds. This risk is usually lower than combine run but it depends on if it has been “cleaned” or not and how it was cleaned. Fans or blowers alone do a poor job of cleaning seed. Centrifugal cleaning and use of sieves or screens do a much better job of cleaning and separating seed by size, shape, and density. Cooper Seed feed seed or re-cleaned seed is subjected to this multi-stage cleaning process. There are still no guarantees, however!
Here’s some good advice. If you are planting pure small grains or ryegrass in the same food plots year after year and want to get by as cheaply as possible, buy re-cleaned feed seed that has been dated for the current year. Otherwise, if you are mixing in any clovers or if you expect high production, disease resistance, reseeding, or a perennial stand (where weeds can be a real problem), stick with certified seed of a proven variety. Cooper Seed Company has a wide selection for you. Good luck with your wildlife food plots!
Courtesy of Kent Kammermeyer, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division,
Special thanks to Kent Kammermeyer and Roy Deason, Forage Specialist, Pennington Seed, for their help with the following planting tips.
Dove Field Management
Begin mowing strips in dove fields 2 to 4 weeks prior to opening day. Mow additional strips weekly. Lightly disc previous weeks’ mowed strips to expose bare ground
Duck Planting in August
- Plant 25 lbs. of Japanese Millet on freshly drained and wet mud flats.
- Plant 25 lbs. of Browntop Millet on drier drained mud flats.
Wild Game Plot Planting Tips
- Always lime and fertilize because most woodland soils are low in phosphorus and tend to be acidic. A soil test will tell you how much to use. Information on taking soil tests can be obtained through your local county extension office.
- Always prepare the soil by plowing, smoothing and firming the seed bed. Good seed/soil contact is essential for a thick, productive stand.
- Broadcast seeding by hand or with a spreader can produce good results if you are careful to cover most seed no more than 1/2\”. Use a log or a heavy drag to firm up the soil after planting.
- Select a site that is long and narrow with curves or bends in it to provide a sense of safety for wildlife. This is essential for deer and turkey. A rule of thumb is 1/4 acre of food plots for every 10 acres of habitat.
- Avoid drought-prone sites such as deep sands or shallow rocky soils. Southwest-facing sites are hotter in the summer and tend to dry out faster than bottom land.
- A minimum of 50% sunshine is essential for a healthy, productive food plot. Morning sun is much better than afternoon for summer game food plots. The reverse is generally true in the winter.
- Grow something in your food plot year round to provide adequate nutrition for deer and other wildlife. Doe and fawns especially need spring and summer forage to stay healthy. Plowing strips and planting into existing plots are excellent ways to extend the productivity of the plot and hold wild game all year long.
- You may want to keep a record of each plot which can include planting and fertilizer information on how productive the varieties are and how much forage is being grazed.
November is an excellent time to plant trees and other wildlife plants. A few suggestions: Sawtooth Oak, Apple, Crabapple, Persimmons, Wild Plum, Dogwood, Hawthorne, Honeylocust, Honeysuckle.
January through April
Now is the best time to put out salt and minerals mix for deer. This time of year is when they really need it for larger racks and all-around better health. Use cooperseeds.com’s 2&1 Mineral Salt.
February and March
If you want to plant a deer plot this time of year, plant our new Cooper’s No. 10 Deer and Turkey Mix. Contains 50 lbs. Winter Hardy Oats, 10 lbs. of Arrowleaf and 10 lbs. of Red Clover.
Planting Dove Fields
In Georgia, we plant brown top, dove proso and sunflowers.
- Brown top matures in about 65 days after coming out of the ground
- Dove proso, 70 to 75 days
- Sunflowers, 100 to 110 days
You want to plant so that your fields will be ready to bush hog 30 days before the season starts. Mow strips on the outside. Doves love eating fresh cut seed heads off of bare ground.
Wildlife In Mind, Management Practices for High-Quality Habitat
A monthly guide for improving your land that gives techniques that can help the area for many species, from deer to ducks to turkeys.
Links to other sites
Woody’s Taxidermy – Georgia’s Hunting-Fishing Forum.
Wildlife Section – Information from the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
N/A = Not Applicable for Zone U = Upper Zone 5 only L = Lower Zone 5 only
*map courtesy of Pennington
Click here to view Cooper’s Fall & Early Spring Seed Chart,
Click here to view Cooper’s Spring & Summer Seed Chart.
These planting guides are based on the zone you live in and were
made especially for Cooper’s Seed and Feed by
Senior Wildlife Biologist
Check with your local county extension agent and/or Department of Natural Resources for suitable planting dates and other vital information.
Some of the seed varieties we sell have been treated, so please wash your hands after handling.
If there are some types of plants or seeds you want and can’t find, get in touch with us.
Our Guarantee – We want you to be happy
Cooperseeds.com policy is to offer our customers the highest quality seeds available. We adhere to state and federal seed laws regarding the restriction of weed seeds considered noxious by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each lot of seed is tested every 9 months to ensure that the seed we offer for sale retains vitality. All seed is described on the container within recognized tolerances in the trade.
This is the sole warranty: We make none, either expressed or implied. We cannot guarantee establishment of plants due of various factors over which we have no control. Seeds not accepted under these terms must be returned within 30 days. Our liability is limited to the purchase price of the seed only.
Prices listed do not include shipping and handling.
Availability of seeds and prices are subject to change without notice due to reasons beyond our control.
Cooper seeds Golden Rule: When in doubt of what, when, where or how to plant, check with your county extension agent or Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife Planting Tips When Should
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