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How to MAXIMIZE The Performance and Longevity of Your Perennial Food Plots By Jon Cooner Photo by Charles J. Alsheimer

o make sure you get the best possible performance from your perennial food plots, make sure you control the factors you can, and minimize the potential negative impact of what you can’t control. In this article, we’ll break down how to do that. As you’ll see, the Whitetail Institute has already done the hard work for you. Preliminary Matters The “Hard Work”, and the Good News. The hard work in ensuring top performance from your perennial food plots is determining what factors affecting food plot performance need to be addressed, and how and when to address them in the planting and maintenance process. The good news is that the Whitetail Institute has already done the hard work for you by providing forage-selection guidelines, planting-date maps, seedbed-preparation and planting instructions, and perennial-forage maintenance guidelines right on its product bags as well as at whitetailinstitute.com. Don’t Skip Steps or Cut Corners. To understand how critical it is that you not cut corners in the recommended planting dates and in-


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structions for the product(s) you’ve chosen, consider the Whitetail Institute’s point of view. First, we want you to have superb results with Whitetail Institute products. It does you no good to have a bad experience with our products, and because Whitetail Institute relies heavily on repeat business, it does us no good either. Second, it does neither you nor us any good if you find the instructions printed on our product bags excessively complex or lengthy. If you understand these two facts, then you can see why the Whitetail Institute has put such great effort in designing its planting maps and food plot instructions so that that you can ensure your planting has an optimum growing environment, and you can do so in as few steps as possible. With that being the case, you can also understand that every step in the instructions is crucial to food plot performance and, therefore, why skipping steps or performing them out of order can negatively affect food plot performance. So, don’t cut corners. Follow the planting dates, and follow all the steps in the instructions in the order shown. Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Testing. Most high-quality food plot products for deer grow best in soils with soil pH between 6.5 to 7.5. Most soils have a lower pH and are deficient in one or more nutrients plants need to grow optimally. Knowing exactly what your existing soil pH and soil-nutrient levels are, and if they’re low, how much lime and fertilizer to add to the seedbed can only be accurately determined by performing a professional laboratory soil test. If possible, you should also decide what forage you’ll be planting before you have the lab test your soil. If you tell the lab what you’ll be planting, the lab can also make very precise recommendations as to what blend of fertilizer and how much of it you need to add to the soil for optimum fertility. Again, only a qualified soil-testing laboratory can scientifically analyze your specific soil, which is required to reach highly www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Whitetail News 29.3