In order for deer to reach their full potential they need good nutrition year round. But one of the most crucial times for deer nutrition is early spring and summer during antler growth and fawn development. A buck will only reach its full potential of antler growth with a high quality diet of protein, minerals and vitamins.
The perfect hunting property will have about 5%-8% of its total acreage planted in food plots. Of those, about 40% should be annuals and 60% perennials. There is no better perennial food plot than clovers. Every hunting property should have a good dose of clovers as both deer and turkey love them.
We have found Imperial Whitetail Clover by Whitetail Institute to be a great mix of clovers specifically designed for both whitetails and turkeys.
Our Review of Imperial Whitetail Clover:
- It seems to handle browse pressure better than other clover mixes we have tried.
- The larger leaves of the ladino clover in the mix provide a lot of forage.
- Freshly nipped stems will regenerate new growth.
- The clover plots last up to 5 years without replanting saving time and money.
- It’s one of the first things to start popping in early spring just in time for turkey season.
- It is easier to establish than other clover plots we have planted.
Our clover plots do best in heavy soils that hold moisture. Always do a soil test before planting new clover plots and fertilize as needed.
We disc the area to be planted and wait 2 weeks for weeds to begin showing before spraying with Glyphosate. We most commonly spread about 400lbs of 6-24-24 fertilizer per acre depending on our soil sample results. We lightly disc again after fertilizing. Using a culipacker we firm the seed bed, broadcast the seed at a rate of 8-10lbs per acre, then cultipack a second and final time.
Place an exclusion or utilization cage in your plot to keep deer from browsing that area. Doing this is very telling as to how much browse pressure your food plot is getting. Even in large clover plots we have noticed a significant difference in plant height inside the cage compared to the rest of the plot.
Clover plots are also one of our favorite places for trail cameras. The clovers are obviously shorter than soybeans, buckwheat, or other types of food plots so it makes for better pictures, especially of turkey.
Whenever unwanted grasses or broadleaf weeds begin to compete we identify the culprit and visit our local Co-Op. They hook us up with the right selective herbicides and help us with the mix rates. Whitetail Institute sells herbicides (Arrest and Slay) for both grasses and broadleaf weeds that are safe to spray on clovers. We like to apply the herbicides with a small sprayer pulled behind a 4wheeler.
It’s important to mow your clover plots a couple times per year. We mow our whitetail clover plots down to 4-6 inches with a bush hog once they reach 10-12 inches high. Never mow your clovers when it’s hot and dry. The clover plants are already stressed in hot/dry conditions and mowing them can cause harm.
We like to give established Imperial Whitetail Clover plots a boost just before hunting season. On a dry day sometime in August or September we’ll broadcast 300lbs of 0-20-20 fertilizer into all our Imperial clover plots. Not only does this help them going into the fall but it keeps the soil more fertile and helps with next spring’s new growth.
If you are looking for a good perennial food plot that will provide lots of forage and adequate nutrition for deer and turkey, in our opinion you can’t go wrong with Imperial Whitetail Clover.
References: Whitetail Institute