Now that we are in the middle of the fall food plot season, many of you have already planted your plots. You may be done planting but your work is not done. You need to scout your plots and be aware of possible problems. Fore those who have not purchased seed or planted it, now is the time to educate yourself pre-plant. Many people plant pure brassica blends. I see on social media all too often how deer are not eating someone's brassicas. There are many reasons for this. One overlooked reason is plant health. Plant diseases cause plants that are unhealthy and unpalatable. Here is a list of common diseases found in brassicas.
Leaf spot/target spot
What can you do to prevent or reduce the chances of having brassica disease issues?
1) Plant varieties with a better disease resistance package
2) Proper dry fertilization
3) Foliar feeding of forages
4) Provide good soil drainage
5) Use of liquid Humics
6) Use of fungicides
7) Plot/crop rotation
8) Use of 1% Hydrogen Peroxide solution foliar fed
9) Plant biodiverse blends
Here are some common fungicides that can be found at many lawn and garden centers.
Bonide Fungonil concentrate
Ortho Max garden disease control Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide Hi-Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit & Ornamental Fungicide Southern Ag Liquid Ornamental & Vegetable Fungicide
Insects can also become a major problem with your fall plots. Insects tend to migrate to unhealthy plants. The key to reduce insect pressure is to have plants naturally high in sugar content. This is where many of my clients have been trained to use foliar plant foods 1-3 times per growing season. It is rare to ever see heavy insect infestation on forages high in brix (sugars). If you need to spray for insects there are sprays you can find at lawn and garden centers. They include:
Southern Ag Thuricide Spray Concentrate
Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Insecticide Concentrate
GardenTech Sevin Insect Killer Concentrate
Neem oil extract- (natural solution)
1% Hydrogen peroxide solution (natural solution)
Bonide Eight Solution
Spectracide Garden Insect Killer Concentrate
Bonide Colorado Potato Beetle Beater Concentrate Ferti-lome Borer, Bagworm & Leafminer Spray Concentrate
The key to scouting is catching problems in the early stages. Insect and disease pressures can devastate a field rapidly. The crucial time for your fall plots is 2-4 weeks post plant. This is why I recommend my clients to spray foliar at 3-4 weeks post plant. This can help prevent problems versus being forced to treat an issue.
One last area that helps reduce issues is planting biodiverse fall blends. When people look at my fall focus blends they see things "uncommon" in the wildlife industry. There are many reasons for that. When you plant grains or annual clovers with brassicas, you reduce potential for plant disease. You also reduce the odds of total failure. There are also better genetics for disease and insect reduction. There are brassicas commonly found in the “industry” that I will not sell. There also is an advantage to staggering out your brassica maturities to reduce issues cause by mother nature, man or insect.
In the end, It’s all about knowing what to look for and being proactive versus reactive. For those with future questions, feel free to ask. Have a successful fall 2019 season.