The importance of seed size in planting mixes for wildlife management

Silent Forest in spring with beautiful bright sun rays - wanderlust

The focus on food plot mixes has gained traction among wildlife enthusiasts, highlighting the importance of meticulous seed size and planting depth considerations. This approach is crucial for the successful germination of diverse plant species tailored to support wildlife, particularly deer.

Originating from a dedicated wildlife program established in 1974 at Stephen F. Austin State University, the Institute for White-tailed Deer Management & Research was founded to bridge the gap between academic research and practical application. The institute initially conducted focus groups with landowners, hunters, foresters, and wildlife managers to pinpoint their informational needs, leading to research directly responsive to practical wildlife management.

These insights led to the development of a 20-year strategic plan focusing on the study of plantings for whitetails and conducting behavioral studies on bucks. Initial experiments involved traditional plantings, such as oat patches, which while effective in attracting deer, lacked resilience against harsh weather conditions. This prompted a shift towards researching more robust plant species and varieties suitable for deer forage.

The research highlighted the efficacy of combining cereal grains with legumes, following the practices advised by local dairymen experienced in ruminant nutrition. This blend has proven to support diverse forage needs across seasons, offering high digestible energy in fall and transitioning to nutrient-rich legumes in the spring.

Dr. James C. Kroll, leading the initiative, emphasized the significance of selecting seed mixes that allow for uniform planting depths and complementary growth patterns, such as oats, wheat, rye, and clover. The institute’s ongoing research has established a series of best practices for food plots, recommending mixed plantings to optimize forage availability throughout the year.

Additionally, the evolution of planting equipment has facilitated more effective seed distribution techniques, from traditional tilling to innovative no-till drills, accommodating various seed sizes simultaneously at appropriate depths.

In conclusion, the institute’s long-standing research underscores the importance of carefully selecting and managing seed mixes for deer food plots. By considering the specific characteristics of each seed type and employing suitable planting strategies, land managers can significantly enhance the quality and effectiveness of wildlife habitats.

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