Step 1 - Selecting A Site Location


To ensure you will have a successful food plot you must 1st choose the correct site.  Make sure it is generally clear of large trees so the ground can be worked and that your plot will receive adequate sunlight. Keep in mind how you will access your food plot during hunting times.  The last thing you want is a food plot you can’t get in and out of without spooking deer.  Also keep in mind things such as treestand or ground blind location and the prevailing wind direction for when you will hunt your food plot.

Fertilizer Efficiency Goes Up As Your pH Approaches Neutral
Soil Acidity Nitrogen Phosphate Potash Fertilizer Wasted
7.0 pH neutral 100% 100% 100% 0.0%
6.0 pH Medium Acid 89% 52% 100% 19.67%
5.5 pH Strong Acid 77% 48% 77% 32.68%
5.0 pH Very Strong Acid 53% 34% 53% 53.67%
4.5 pH Extreme Acid 30% 23% 33% 72.34%

Step 2 - Soil Testing


Step2-Soil-testingSoil testing is a critical step in creating a healthy food plot.  The last thing you want to happen is have your plot fail because you did not take a few minutes to make sure your soil does not need any fertilizer. Soil that is too acidic can affect the growth of your plants as well as their palatability to wildlife.  A simple soil test kit will let you know the quality of dirt you’re working with.  Depending on the results you may need to apply fertilizer or lime to achieve the proper pH level.

Heartland Wildlife Planting Guide Step 3 Select Seed
Heartland Wildlife makes a variety of food plot seeds for almost any hunting or habitat improvement application.

Step 3 - Choosing which Heartland Wildlife food plot seed to plant.


When deciding which food plot seeds to plant you’ll likely choose between annual and perennial varieties.  Annual seeds will grow for a single season and must be replanted each year whereas perennials seeds will come back year after year.

Generally speaking, annual blends need to be covered, therefore tilling the ground is key to having a good plot, unless you have no-till equipment where the seed will be covered during the planting process.  If you’re going to plant a perennial blend you can just broadcast the seed directly on the ground.

You will also want to look at which seeds should be planted during the Spring and which should be planted in late summer or fall.  Use the chart below to determine when and how much to plant of the specific variety of seed you choose.

Planting Guide
Food Plot Mixes Seeding Rate Acre/Bag Planting Depth Planting Time
Secret Weapon 25lbs/acre .2 1/2 - 1 1" Late Summer/Fall
Rack Maker Brassicas 9lbs/acre .5 1/4 - 1 1/2" Mid Sum/Early Fall
High Pro Forage 8-10lbs/acre .5 Less than 1/4" Spring/Sum*/Fall
Rack Maker 8-10lbs/acre .5 1/4 - 1 1/2" Spring/Fall*
Rack Maker Plus 8-10lbs/acre .5 1/4 - 1 1/2" Spring/Fall*
Forested Trail 8-10lbs/acre .5 Less than 1/4" Spring/Sum*/Fall*
Topseed Trophy Clover 8-10lbs/acre .5 Less than 1/4" Spring/Sum*/Fall*
* as moisture permits; moisture availability is critical.
Planting Guide Step: Prep Site
A variety of ATV-mounted accessories are available to help making your food plots easier including spreaders, discs, harrows and more.

Step 4 – Food Plot Site Preparation


Once chosen a site for your food plot and tested your soil it’s time to start getting things ready to plant.  Depending on your site conditions you may have to mow, spray and disc up the site to ensure proper planting and to receive the proper seed to soil contact.  Here are some basic steps to follow when preparing your food plot site.


  1. Clear any large trees, brush or other debris covering the site
  2. Mow any grass or weeds currently growing.
  3. Spray area with a broad-spectrum herbicide such as glyphosate to kill any plants currently growing.
  4. Wait 1 to 2 weeks and apply more herbicide in order to kill any plants you missed or that have started growing since your first application.
  5. Come back a week later and spray any weeds that have started to regrow.
  6. If you intend to plant Heartland Wildlife annual food plot seeds use a disc, rototiller or other implement to turn over the soil once all plants are dead. Most of our perennial blends do not require any tilling.  You may simply broadcast the seeds onto the mowed and sprayed ground.
Planting Guide Step: Seeding
When spreading seed in your food plot be sure to pay attention to how many pounds of seed you should be using per acre. Using too much seed can stunt the growth of your plants, while not using enough can result in bare spots.

Step 5 – Planting Your Food Plot


As stated earlier, most perennial food plot seeds can be broadcast on top of the ground and will grow just fine.  You can use a hand spreader, push spreader or an ATV/UTV mounted spreader to apply your seed.

If you are planning an annual seed blend the seeds will need to be covered in order to ensure proper seed to soil contact and proper germination.  Dragging a harrow or other implement over the tilled ground after your seed has been spread is a great way to cover your seed.  If you have no-till planting equipment available that works great as well.

Be sure to keep some extra seed in case you need to fill in bare spots later.

Heartland Wildlife Food Plot
Spring-planted clover and chicory food plots will most likely need to be mowed during the summer in order to control weeds and allow the plot to establish itself. By late summer and fall most weeds are done growing so you will see a lot less weeds in those fall plots.

Step 6 – Check & Maintain Your Food Plot


After a week or two you will want to check in on the status of your food plot.  In some cases, you may have missed a few areas or have spots that did not germinate.  If that is the case, you can reseed those spots on a case-by-case basis.

If you are planting clover or chicory blends in the Spring you may have to mow your food plot during the summer to knock down weeks.  Most clover food plots need at least 1 to 2 mowings per year to control weeds.

By late summer and fall most weeds are done growing so you will see a lot less weeds in those fall plots.

Heartland Wildlife Food Plot
Deer can’t resist food plots. They not only provide a great source of nutrition for your wildlife, but also make for deadly spots where you can harvest the buck of a lifetime.

Step 7 – Monitor & Hunt Your Food Plots


Once your food plot is established and growing its time to start monitoring activity and planning your hunts.  Here are some helpful tips for hunting your food plots.

  1. Use trail cameras on your food plots to monitor deer activity. Pay special attention to where the deer are entering and exiting your plots and what times of day they are using them.
  2. Pro Tip: Use trail cameras in time lapse mode to monitor a larger area and gain more insight into deer movements.
  3. Some plots will keep growing even if they are over grazed, so you don’t have to worry.
  4. Utilization cages can also be installed to monitor growth of your plants and how much pressure the deer are putting on them.
  5. If your deer density is very high or the plot is small and being over grazed to the point where it’s affecting plant growth you might need to install an electric fence. This will help to keep the deer out until the time is right.
  6. Otherwise get ready for the hunting season and make sure your stands are ready to hunt your food plot under multiple wind conditions.