Find out how to Frost Seed a Clover Plot for Higher Deer Searching

For many meals plotters, planting season stays weeks away. However in the event you’ve obtained a longtime clover plot otherwise you began one final fall, it’s time to get out that broadcast spreader and provides these plots a lift by frost seeding. Because the title implies, frost seeding is achieved throughout that in-between season, when winter and spring are duking it out for dominance. Seed is unfold straight onto the bottom, which, due to freezing temps at evening and thawing temps in the course of the day, is regularly heaving. The lively nature of the soil permits seeds to make contact with the dust and get labored down into the topsoil. As soon as soil temps heat, seeds germinate, and so they’re off to the races. Whereas I’ve used frost seeding largely in clover plots, it can be used successfully for alfalfa and chicory in addition to annual cool-season plot choices like wheat and oats.

Like most food-plotting strategies, frost seeding is one thing we stole straight from farmers. For a number of years, I hunted a big property close to my dwelling, and the farmer employed rotational grazing to maintain pastures viable for his sheep and cattle. Frost seeding was a standard device utilized by this landowner to increase the lifetime of his pastures–usually dedicated to alfalfa–with out enduring the expense of tilling and re-planting those self same fields. And it really works simply as effectively for deer plots.

Why Frost Seeding Now Is Well worth the Hassle

photo of man planting clover
The creator pours clover seed right into a hand spreader for frost seeding in early March. Scott Bestul

I’ll admit that the primary time I frost-seeded I felt type of foolish. My boots crunched on snow, then slid on mud, whereas I labored a hand-crank spreader and listened to clover seed hit the bottom like pellets of sleet. Clover seed ain’t low cost, and I puzzled if I’d simply wasted a valuable half-pound of the stuff. However within the weeks that adopted, I watched that plot explode with new progress and wished I’d hit two different plots and, within the years since, frost seeding has turn into a favourite method. In my expertise, frost seeding has three main advantages.

1. Frost seeding helps set up new plots and enhance getting older ones.

When you have a brand new plot that also filling in, frost seeding is a straightforward technique to enhance new progress so you’ve gotten a thicker, lusher meals supply for deer within the fall. What some folks overlook, although, is that the method can even lengthen the lifetime of older clover plots nearing the top of their life cycle. As most veteran clover-growers know, the primary and second years of a clover plot often symbolize the height attraction interval for deer, as younger crops are usually not solely filled with protein however tender as effectively. However because the plot ages, even with the most effective upkeep, the stems turn into more durable and the leaves not fairly as tasty. Frost seeding provides an getting older plot the shot-in-the-arm it wants in its final section of life.

2. Frost seeding helps with weed management.

photo of man spreading seed
It’s superb to unfold seed over gentle snow. The pure heaving of the soil this time of yr will work seeds into the bottom. Scott Bestul

In case you’ve obtained naked or skinny spots in your plot, like all of us often do, they’re apt to fill in with weeds this spring and summer time. That’s, until you plant clover there now. Whereas a few of these will doubtless be evident as you go to the plot to frost seed, I do know a number of land managers who mark these under-seeded areas by flagging them earlier than snowfall. That manner, after they return within the spring they’ve clearly outlined spots that require somewhat further consideration. Clover is a reasonably aggressive grower as soon as it’s established, and frost seeding permits your fascinating crops to get a pleasant head begin on weed competitors. Sometimes it’s so profitable that I can usually forego herbicide use and preserve weed progress at bay by merely mowing on the acceptable occasions.

3. Frost seeding saves money and time.

One of many predominant causes frost seeding is definitely worth the hassle is as a result of it isn’t a lot hassle within the first place. Nothing could possibly be simpler to do, and it delays the necessity to until and replant a plot. Most of us are hard-pressed for time, and a few years we simply don’t have sufficient hours to do all of the issues we needs to be doing. Greater than as soon as, when my schedule was filled with stuff that interferes with deer administration, I’ve used frost seeding to offer me a one-year reprieve.

The Proper Option to Frost Seed a Clover Plot

As famous, frost seeding is greatest executed when the bottom remains to be frozen, however when spring is threatening. For me, which means late February via March, since spring green-up is often in mid-April right here in Minnesota. Don’t fear if there’s nonetheless snow on the bottom, as frost seeding over a pair inches of snow is ok.

photo of clover seed on the ground
Go forward and be somewhat beneficiant with the seed in naked spots, as not each seed will germinate. Scott Bestul

Ideally the plots you plan to frost seed needs to be hit with an herbicide in fall, which ought to knock again weed competitors and provides your most well-liked crop a terrific begin. However in the event you missed this step, go proper forward and frost seed. You possibly can comply with advisable seeding charges when frost seeding, however I have a tendency to use somewhat further seed, particularly in areas of the plot I do know are skinny or naked. I don’t count on a full germination when frost seeding, so I’m usually somewhat beneficiant. And take into account that if even in the event you plan so as to add lime and/or fertilizer to a plot, you’ll be able to go forward and frost seed now, after which wait till full inexperienced up, full the soil check, after which apply the advisable amendments.

trail camera photo of buck in clover field
A summer-2021 trail-cam picture of simply one among a number of good bucks utilizing one of many creator’s frost-seeded clover plots. Scott Bestul

Be sure you make follow-up journeys to examine the plot after the climate has warmed and green-up is effectively underway. These visits will can help you gauge the success of your seeding and, much more necessary, gauge competitors from weeds. I’ve discovered via exhausting expertise that getting a bounce on weed management begins with figuring out the culprits early.

Frost seeding won’t ever change the necessity to until and replant crops, however it’s a terrific and straightforward technique to enhance one which already began. Final fall, my dad tagged a pleasant 10-pointer that was the fourth buck he’d seen on two completely different hunts on the identical clover plot. I’d frost-seeded that plot final March, and whereas the clover was in its fifth yr, the plot was as inexperienced and productive as ever. Is I write this I’m planning sling a seeder over my shoulder within the days forward and see if I can get a sixth season out of that little honey gap.

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