Clover is without a doubt one of the best food plot plants you can plant on your property. It is relatively easy to establish, provides almost year round forage availability, and being a perennial, means that with a little care you can have a quality plot for many years to come without replanting. Combine all those reasons and it is easy to see why clover is a great food plot plant for almost every property.
When it comes to clover plots there are many different species that are available to plant. Below we cover the different species of clover and their benefits as a food plot species.
A cool-season clover, which means the plant is most productive in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler. This is an annual species, unlike most of the other clover species, however, it reseeds pretty well and with the right management acts much like a perennial.
Growth of arrowleaf clover usually lasts until mid-summer when temperatures get to hot. Planting in early September is best in northern states and October is best in southern states. Like most clovers, frost seeding in the spring is also a very good option.
This species does best in well drained soils. Don’t plant more than 1/8 of an inch deep. Covering the seeds with too much soil will make seed germination less successful. Being a legume, the seed should be inoculated before planting.
Broadcast at 10-15 lbs. per acre and drill at 5-10 lbs. per acre. Broadcasting the seed usually works just fine with this species. This species is best planted from northern Missouri/southern Ohio eastward, and south to Texas and Florida. There are clover species better adapted to northern climates for those in northern states.
Another species that is easy to grow and does well on poor quality soils. It does not do well in the cold, and in northern states should be planted in the spring. Easily identified by its crimson colored flowers, this is a good starting plant for new food plot growers, especially those in southern states.
It is another annual, but it too reseeds very well, and is highly digestible to deer. Similar to arrowleaf clover, crimson clover prefers well drained soils. The seed should be inoculated because it is a legume. It may be best to cultipack the area to be planted before broadcasting the seed. Plant at 10-15 lbs. per acre if drilling the seed, and 15-20 lbs. per acre if broadcasting.
Plant in September-October in southern states, and in the spring in more northern states. Crimson clover has a relatively short growing period, but is still a valuable clover species, especially in the south.
Plant in the same region as mentioned above for arrowleaf clover.
A cool-season perennial clover that may last for 4-5 years if managed correctly. Unlike the clovers mentioned above ladino clover is a better option for northern states. Like most clovers it prefers well drained soils, and it is best to cultipack the soil before planting.
It can be planted from August through October, and can be planted in the spring in northern states from January (frost seeding) through April. Being a legume, the seed needs to be inoculated as mentioned earlier.
This plant may be slower to establish the first spring or fall. It can be planted almost anywhere in the whitetails range, however its growth and success is limited by how hot the summer temperatures are. If planting in the south plant in a shady area and you will see a better stand of clover.
Ladino is a white clover species, it is important to remember also that Durana is another species of white clover that is very popular and does very well in most locations.
A cool-season clover species, that usually has a lifespan of 2 years. It tolerates dry and acidic soils. This makes it a good choice if you are having trouble planting other species of clover on your property. Being drought tolerant also makes it a great choice.
Seed must be inoculated, and you should plant at a rate mentioned earlier in the article for crimson or arrowleaf clover. It can be planted in the fall and frost seeded in the spring. Plant in the August or September in northern states, and September or October in the south.
Plant anywhere in the eastern United States. From eastern Nebraska to New York and Georgia.