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UGUIDE 2024 Food Plot System (updated 2/10/2024)

January 18, 2024 by

(Photo above is Double Team Milo in Western South Dakota in Jan. of 2024).

If there’s any basis for success at pheasant camp it’s CRP and Food Plots.  This article is about food plots.  This year we’ve finally had some big break-throughs not only at my camp but several other UGUIDE camps.  I wanted to share these successes across the board in and effort to help camp owners get food plots right.

The big changes to note for the 2024 season are that Pioneer’s Inzen milo is not available in South Dakota and much of my plots blew over (or lodged) and that results in a lots of food on the ground but little cover so it is being replaced by S&W’s Double Team through Millborn Seeds.  The other change was I was going to eliminate the broadleaf food plot (Final Flush) from my system, and just rotate Corn and Milo, but as I spent much time in the deer stand pontificating and observing habitat and wildlife’s use of it, I came to the idea that the new herbicide tolerant milo could also be added to the diverse broadleaf plots mix and still kill all grass weeds using First Act instead of clethodim.

Growing up in the cities I have had to learn how to farm.  And by that I mean growing crops.  I am amazed at how many farmers, that know how to grow production crops, fail at food cover plots.  They fail because they fail to cover the basic agronomy success principle’s:  Seed Selection, Fertility, Weed Control, Planting (includes timing and seeding depth/rate) and more weed control.  And while we’re at it A Sustainable Rotation.

You are all going to have to figure out what works best for our farms and system but here is what has worked out exceptionally well for me this year.

ROTATION – Herbicide Tolerant Grain Sorghum (Milo), Roundup Ready Corn, and UGUIDE’s 2024 custom Final Flush (my custom mix of all broadleaves-15 species and 1 herbicide tolerant sorghum).

FERTILITY – I’ve tried various rates but have found that anything less than 100lbs/acre of actual N nitrogen will produce poor results.  Beyond that modifications to this should be based on soil tests and agronomist recommendations for your farm and food plot system.  I broadcast this on around planting time or close to it if a rain is forecast.  Don’t forget to assess your local phosphorus and potassium needs based on your soil types.

WEED CONTROL – I’ll get into this specifically with each crop type.  It seems the most prevalent problem that plagues us and most outfitters in SD is grass weeds like sandburs and foxtails (and I’ll add volunteer corn from the previous years plots to the mix).  After being able to set back these grasses effectively I am starting to have to deal with some pesky broadleaf weeds too. It is a little like Whack-A-Mole with weeds.   In terms of season long control you will need a good pre-emergent, burn down at plant and post emergent over the top system.

MILO – There are 3 herbicide tolerant varieties of milo.  Only 2 are available in SD.   The 2 are S&W’s Double Team and Alta’s IGrowth, of which other UGUIDE camps have had success with both.  I would probably say either will work fine but I would recommend Double Team because it is readily available from Millborn Seeds and comes in Red or White and is a reasonable maturity seed.  Based on Corteva Agronomist recommendations the Cadillac weed control would be putting down 64 oz/acre of Medal II ATZ (metolchlor/atrazine) 30-45 days ahead of plant at plot chopping or cultivation.  Then, at plant, apply 64oz/acre of Resicore (acetachlor/mesotrione/clopyralid).  For post emergent you can use the traditional broadleaf options like 2-4-D and/or dicamba.  Each milo will have its own matched grass control herbicide for over the top application and timing is everything here because you don’t want your grass weeds getting more than 4” and you typically only get one shot at this.  The proper adjuvant is key here as well.  Seeding rate can be in the 5-8lbs an acre depending on your area.  Seeding depth can be from .5” to 1.5” depending on moisture in the soil profile.  I like as narrows rows as possible for bird holding and cover.  I use 7.5” rows.  Done right, nothing beats milo for season long pheasant hunting results AND winter cover.  It also produces abundant residue for spring moisture retention for the next crop…..CORN.

CORN – Glyphosate Tolerant of course.  I used to think the shorter day maturity the better but I have changed my thinking on that because the plant residue breaks down too soon and thus you have no cover.  Probably 100-110 day is suggested.  Note: with high residue milo in front of corn, it will take longer for those soils to warm up in order to be ready for planting.  Planting depth 2-2.5” and I seed with my drill on 15” rows at about 30K population.  My goal here is stem density with food and not a huge ear of corn,plus good plant residue for cover.  I use 1-1.5 qts of Gly/acre and may have to add some companion chemical’s like WideMatch if resistant weeds come in.  Getting weeds when they are small is the key.  Keep your corn as clean as possible with repeated applications of glyphosate.  The other beauty of corn following milo is it is tolerant of any of the pre-emerge chemicals like Dual II which has a 2 year plant back interval and Resicore is 10 months.  The Gly will also take care of any volunteer milo.

UGUIDE’s Final Flush (2024 version) – This is my nutrient builder, broadleaf only (except for added DT Milo), 15 seed custom mix, I designed with Millborn seeds.  Because its all broadleaf and herbicide tolerant milo you can take care of grass weeds with a good burndown and then up to two post emergent applications of First Act which is not active on broadleaves or DT milo. I plant it .5” deep, narrow rows, 30lbs/acre.  The addition of safflower and Clearfield sunflower helped with birds this year.  First plot we went into we harvested 7 roosters.  It stands very well in snow also and holds up to wind.  The First Act will take care of any grass weeds as well as volunteer corn.  READ THE LABEL of any herbicide you plan to use.  I will attach my mix here but just ask for it from Jason Tronback @ Millborn.  (Note:  as of 2/10/2024 we are also looking at adding CoAxiom Wheat which would also be tolerant to the First Act herbicide and would be a great addition to the mix as pheasants love wheat. Please be aware the mix below does not reflect this.  Recommended rate for added wheat to this mix would be 15-20 lbs an acre).