When you’re ready to plant spring food plots, keep in mind that the best way to ensure a successful crop is through proper seedbed preparation. Many planting failures can be attributed to poor seedling survival or lack of germination due to incorrect planting depth and poor seedbed prep.
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“If you’re planting small seeds like clover, chicory, brassicas or alfalfa, it’s especially important to have the correct seed covering,” said Jesse Raley with Mossy Oak GameKeepers. “These seeds only need to be covered with about 1/4-inch of soil. Many times when small seeds are broadcast onto a very finely disked and fluffy seed bed, even a moderately heavy rain can cause them to be buried too deep resulting in an uneven stand.”
Ideally, when planting smaller seeds, fields should be cultipacked after disking or tilling to firm up the seedbed. Seed can then be broadcast, and for the best seed-to-soil contact, fields can then be cultipacked again. This process creates a great environment for seedling survival by incorporating the seed at the proper depth.
Cultipacking also allows moisture to move through the soil profile properly and keeps moisture around the seed as it germinates. Leaving a seedbed un-packed and full of air space allows the soil to dry out much more rapidly and increases the chance of plot failure.
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This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER™ Fall 2015 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.