Put away that tractor and mower!
In a recent study, Craig Harper, extension wildlife specialist at the University of Tennessee, found that regular mowing does not improve perennial food plots, and does not increase crude protein of the forage. In fact, the study showed that mowing white or red clover and alfalfa plots reduced forage production by 25 percent. Deer consumed 608 lbs./acre more forage in un-mowed study plots.
Kip Adams of the National Deer Association agrees. “Contrary to what you might have heard, there is little to be gained by mowing clover,” he says. “In fact, you lose forage for deer and other wildlife.”
Kip understands that many hunters like to mow their plots at least once, and for those he offers this advice. If you decide to mow once, do it mid to late summer before any weeds in the plot, many of which provide additional forage and are preferred by deer, go to seed. “Mow high, just below the weed seed heads,” says Kip. “Ideally, you mow the seed heads off the weeds and do not touch the clover.”
By not mowing your plots, you save time and, more importantly these days, fuel!