Mowing is a great way to control some weed species and keep a clover stands in check. But overall from a wildlife professional’s point of view, it can actually do more harm than good! Should you mow your clover food plots this summer?
Mowing is a great way to control some weed species and keep a clover stand in check. But overall from a wildlife professional’s point of view, it can actually do more harm than good!
So let’s cover the benefits from mowing first, and then tie them into why it may actually be harm. It’s also important to keep in mind that I’m am talking about mainly white clover species, as they are more common in food plots than red clover.
So to start mowing does control annual broad leaf species and can keep other weed species from seeding out. Mowing when you start seeing white clover heading out can keep the plot vigorous and increase stolon or runner production. This also keeps the clover more palatable and attractive to the deer. It is often suggested that you should mow your clover plots 2-3 times during the growing season depending on conditions. And that’s the kicker various conditions…
This is why I feel mowing can often do more harm than good. For one mowing has very limited weed control, annual broadleaf species like ragweed and lambs quarter are only a small portion of the weeds competing with your clover. And what’s more many of these weeds are preferred browse by deer. So they might actually control most of these weeds. If not using only two herbicides like 2-4-dB (for butyrac) and Clethodim can effectively remove both the broadleaf and grasses species without harming clover.
Secondly, perennial white clover plots are usually but not always placed in small food plots or areas of high browse pressure. The browse pressure alone is enough to keep the clover vigorous and sprawling out. With white clover you do not need to worry about the palatability, deer love it tall or short, its great food regardless and chances are the deer alone with keep it in check.
These reasons alone give me enough to not touch my food plots with the mower. But the final nail in the coffin comes with the extremely limited window you have to mow. Between turkey, quail, and pheasant nesting and poult seasons and whitetail fawning you are limited to mow during the late spring to early summer period. After this the hot dry weather will stress your clover, meaning mowing can be very harmful. And if you get a small window when all the conditions are right, all you are doing is taking reseeding heads off and tons of food per acre. Which is bad for not only your deer, but turkeys, quail, pheasants, and even pollinators.
This season you should seriously think about the characteristics and conditions of your food plot, and decide if mowing is the best action to take. For more information on this or anything else white-tailed deer find The Buck Advisors online and www.buckadvisors.com.