Food Plot Management for Turkeys

Tips for Food Plot Management for Turkeys

When discussing what to plant in your food plots, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I would venture to say that most people would give an answer such as “I want something to keep the most deer on my property” or “I want something that will help grow the biggest antlers”. While deer are at the forefront of our food plot strategy most often, turkeys benefit in a huge way from certain food plant species that we can incorporate into our plots. In fact, I have many food plots that are planted specifically with turkeys in mind. When considering what to plant and how to manage for turkeys on your property, you must think about the big picture. Most serious food plotters incorporate plants that will benefit deer on a year-round basis, and it is no different for turkeys. Having food plots that are attractive not only during the spring season when we are hunting them but also benefit the hens during the nesting and brooding season is incredibly important.

So, the question is, what should we plant for our turkeys? When talking about food plots for turkeys, I think clover must be one of the key ingredients. I like to get my plots established during the fall with a cool season mix containing a cereal grain base (wheat, oats, rye) and a good amount of clover mixed in. Which clover to use in the mix depends a lot on the soil type for me. If I am planting in a bottomland type area, I may go with a white ladino clover or red clover. If I were planting in more of an upland site with well-drained red clay soil, I would possibly go with a crimson clover. Keep in mind that this would be a fall season planting, with planting dates varying across the country depending on where you are located. The cereal grains in the mix would germinate quickly and produce lots of tonnage throughout the fall and winter, and the clover would establish its root system and provide food throughout the next few months. However, the next spring, as soon as temperatures start to warm, the clover is really going to pop! Also, as spring progresses and the cereal grains mature and are not as desirable to deer, they produce a seed head that turkeys love while also providing cover for nesting and brooding. One product that is perfect for this is Tecomate Max Attract, which has cereal grains, perennial and annual clovers, as well as chicory. This is my go-to when establishing a plot with turkeys in mind. Other products such as Monster Mix, King Ladino White Clover, Alfa-Feast, and Rackup Red Clover are also great choices for turkeys if you want to create your preferred mix or plant them on their own. There are also some warm season food plot options that are good for turkeys and other birds such grain sorghum, millet, and sunflowers. As mentioned with cereal grains, these also provide good cover as well as a good food source. Tecomate Upland Game Bird Mix fits the bill perfectly for a warm season mix such as this. Another warm-season option that you have to mention when talking about turkeys is chufa. Chufa is a variety of yellow nutsedge and is generally planted in late spring or early summer months. It produces “tuber” in its root system, which turkeys like to scratch up and consume.

These are just some options to keep in mind when planting food plots for turkeys in particular. There are tons of other things that you can do on your property to help all wildlife, such as prescribed burning, herbicide applications, and strip disking to promote early successional habitat. The sky is the limit when it comes to managing your own property, and food plots are just one key ingredient that may help you carry out that big gobbler this spring!

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