Method: Choose a site that receives a minimum of 8 hours of full sun. Prepare a clean, smooth and firm seedbed by plowing and dragging the soil. Fertilizer and lime can be applied during this step to incorporate it into the soil. Plant with a drill on a firm seedbed or broadcast seed evenly across the soil surface and incorporate it using a culti-packer or light drag to cover the seed. Care should be taken to ensure seed are planted at the proper depth.
Seeding Date: South - Sept. 15 thru Nov. 1; Upper South – Sept. 1 thru Oct. 15 and Mar. 15 thru May 1; North - Aug. 1 thru Sept. 15 and Apr. 1 thru May 15.
Seeding Rate: 10 lbs. per acre alone (4 oz. / 1000 sq. ft.) or 4 lbs. per acre in mixes (1.5 oz. /1000 sq. ft.)
Depth: ¼” (stand failures will result from seed planted too shallow or too deep).
Fertilizer: Soil testing is highly recommended. Liming to a pH of 6.0-7.0 and providing adequate amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus fertilizer are necessary to ensure a productive chicory food plot. (Consult your local county extension office for soil sampling assistance.) In the absence of a soil test, apply
300 lbs. /acre 19-19-19 (7 lbs. /1000 sq. ft.) or equivalent fertilizer and 1 ton/acre ag lime (50 lbs. /1000 sq. ft.). Apply fertilizer just prior to seeding. If practical, apply lime a minimum of 3 months before planting. To obtain maximum production, apply an additional 30 – 50 lbs. /acre nitrogen 30 – 60 days after emergence with the application of 100 – 150 lbs. /acre 34-0-0 (or equivalent) nitrogen fertilizer.
Chicory is highly responsive to good soil fertility especially nitrogen fertilization. For maximum productivity and stand life, maintain a soil pH of 6.0 or higher and medium to high soil levels of phosphorus and potassium. Annual or biennial soil testing is highly recommended. For pure stands, apply a total of 100-150 lbs. per acre (2.25 – 3.5 lbs. /1000 sq.ft.) nitrogen annually in split applications (spring, summer and again in the fall). If planted in a mixture with alfalfa or perennial clover, annual nitrogen fertilizer application rate can be reduced by 50% or more. To keep forage growth leafy, productive and fresh, prevent seedhead formation by mowing plots periodically in the spring and summer months to remove developing flower stems.
Tips for Successful Food Plots:
1. Every successful food plot begins with a soil test. Most woodland soils have low pH and low fertility. A soil test will tell you how much fertilizer and lime is needed. Information on taking a soil test can be obtained from your local county extension office.
2. Spend the extra time necessary to properly prepare the soil by plowing, smoothing and firming the ground. Planting on a weed free, smooth and firm seedbed that allows good seed-soil contact is essential for a thick, productive forage stand.
3. Plant seed at the proper seeding depth. Planting too shallow or too deep can result in stand failure. Seed mixes containing small seeded legumes and forbs should not be seeded deeper than ¼ inch. Use a cultipacker, log or a light drag to firm the soil after planting.
4. When selecting a wildlife food plot site, choose an area that is long and narrow with curves or bends in it. This provides a sense of comfort and safety for wildlife. When developing food plots, a good rule of thumb is to plant 2.5 to 7 acres of food plots for every 100 acres of habitat.
5. Avoid droughty sites such as eroded hillsides or shallow, rocky soils. Southwest facing slopes are hotter in the summer and tend to dry out faster than bottom land.
6. A minimum of 50% full sunshine is essential for a healthy and productive food plot. Morning sun is better than afternoon sun for summer game food plots. The reverse is generally true in the winter.