What advice does Mississippi wildlife biologist Steve Payne have for those considering putting in a food plot?

“When you’re choosing a food plot, the prime concern is the same as with real estate: location, location, location. You want the area with the best soil.

“If you’re planting for the spring and summer, it must be able to hold moisture. It can’t be the top of a hill. Of course, it can’t be flooded bottomland, either.”

For more on Payne's work, see here and here.

You must also pull a soil sample for testing.

“That’s extremely important step. Work with one of the university labs. Send the sample in and you’re looking at a $15 charge, or less, and it usually only takes two or three weeks for results.

“You want the pH around 6 or 7. A lot of people shoot for 7, but it’ll be fine if you keep it between 6 and 7. At that level, it doesn’t matter what you plant, it’ll still grow.”

When it comes to planting, “many folks don’t have access to grain drillers or planters. It’s more common for them to use hitch spreaders,” he says.

“You prep a food plot through disking, then harrow it down for a good, smooth seedbed. Then, spread the seed and bring the harrow or a roll-packer back over it.

“That’s all there is to it. It’s simple, and I try and make it as easy as possible.”

In August and early September, prepare for the fall food plots. For those, “You can go on some of the higher ridges. A lot of timber companies have logging decks and those are sometimes used for food plots.

“Those need to be prepped around Sept. 1, although that’s a bit too early to plant in the South.” In the Mid-South, “I try and get them to wait until Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 to plant.”