Fannin Soil & Water Conservation District

200 E. 1st St. Bonham, TX 75418
Tel: 903-583-9513 Ext:3
Fax: 903-583-7993

National Resources Conservation Service

Tel: 903-583-9513  Ext:3

Fax: 903-583-7993

Fannin Soil and Water Conservation District


P.O. Box 426, Bonham, Texas 75418


C. W. Jones, Chairman
Billy Partridge, Vice Chairman
Leon Bowman, Secretary-Treasurer
Harvey Milton, Member
David Keene, Member

Randy Moore, District Conservationist
Steve Deckard, Soils Cons. Technician
Lanny J. Burnett, Technician
Mary Jane Godwin, District Secretary


Volume 13

Number 4

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7

Winter Food Plots for Wildlife
CJ Brinlee, Soil Conservationist Student Trainee, Randy Moore, Wildlife Biologist USDA-NRCS

Late summer and winter are poor production seasons for wildlife forage.  For those of you who have considered improving your land for wildlife either for hunting purposes, or observation, there are a few methods for attracting and sustaining wildlife populations throughout the lean winter.  An annual or perennial planting of grain, forbs, and legumes can work to attract a variety of wildlife to your property including deer, rabbit, and quail.

Food plots are a distinct method for providing forage for wildlife in the late summer, and winter months.  They are left standing through these seasons, after the fall plowing has buried crop residue and denied that forage for wildlife.  Although food plots by themselves are ineffective for wildlife management, when surrounded by the proper habitat they can attract and help to sustain wildlife populations for year-round enjoyment.

Before planting a food plot there are some considerations to take into account.  The plot should be at least a ¼ acre, and consider placing one for every 40 acres of land for either annual or perennial plots. It is recommended to plant the food crop on the contour, and in the least erodible part of the field.  Depending on your expectations, the location of the food plot must be determined.  For observation the food plot can be placed in a relatively open area at least a ¼ mile from quality cover.  If you want to utilize the food plot for hunting purposes, it should be placed near cover to camouflage both deer and hunter.

Now is the time to be planning and planting winter food plots which can consist of oats, wheat, soybeans, red ripper cow peas, black-eyed peas, alfalfa, or clover to name a few.  Depending on what you want to attract, the food plot should be planted accordingly.  Winter grain and sorghum provide healthy crops for attracting deer in the winter, while sunflowers work to attract dove in the summer.  Whatever you plant, an adequate vegetative cover should be maintained in order to prevent erosion and provide wildlife benefits.

On July 11, 2007 an experimental food plot was planted at A.W. Winningham’s property.  The plot was planted to test the suitabilities of specific species of forbs and grains for this area.  The crops planted were annuals adapted to this area. The recommended crops with the best success rate and the most advantage to wildlife are the prior mentioned peas and soybeans along with some sorghums.

Annual food plots tend to attract upland game birds and deer. They mainly work to establish safe foraging during critical nutritional time periods for deer and other game, and restrict unnecessary movement.  Perennial food plots attract deer, rabbits, and several game and songbirds and function to provide open space and foraging.  A soil test from the current year is recommended when determining any kind of liming requirement or fertilizer.  

Weed control is also generally unnecessary since some forbs such as western ragweed, smartweed, and foxtail actually provide more nutrition than some domestic grains.  The food plot area should be protected from haying and grazing, and if necessary it should be fenced to prevent livestock damage.  When herbicides are applied in order to control noxious weeds, they should be done on a “spot” basis in order to prevent killing beneficial weeds.  Perennial food plots should not be disturbed during the nesting period (March 15 – July 15) for grassland species, and they should persist for 5-6 years and continue to be maintained if necessary.  For more information on planning and planting a food plot, please contact the USDA-NRCS office located at 200 E First Street, RM 14 or call 903-583-9513 x3.





Anna Belle Winningham & C. J. Brinlee, NCRS Summer Intern are considering wire cages for wildlife food plot evaluation for the summer of 2007 at the Wildwood Farm north of Honey Grove.