Determining the Proper Seeding Rate
The upcoming deer season is right around the corner, which means hunters will soon be scrambling to get their food plot plans in order. Thus, now is a good time to review some basic information that is often overlooked by many hunters and food plot managers. Determining the proper seeding rate is more than just going online and looking up rates for the forages you are planting. This is especially true considering that many clovers now come pre-inoculated, which influences the weight of seed within the bag and can ultimately impact how much seed you are applying per acre.
Determining the proper amount of seed to plant per acre is quite simple, but requires you to use some basic math from the information contained on the seed tag that is attached (by law) to the bag of seed. In the example used below, the seed tag is from a bag of red clover, which is an excellent forage for deer. This seed has been pre-inoculated, specified by the percentage of “coating material” on the tag, which is 34%. This is a very important piece of information as you will see in the calculation below. Also, it is important to know that the standard seeding rate (broadcast, not drilled) for red clover is about 15 pounds per acre if planting alone in a pure stand.
To determine the appropriate seeding rate from the red clover seed above, multiply the percentage of pure seed contained in the bag (65.5%) by the germination rate of the seed (80%).
0.655 X 0.80 = 0.524
Next, divide the desired seeding rate for Red Clover by 0.524 (this number determined above)
15 lbs. per acre / 0.524 = 28.6 lbs. red clover seed
Based on the red clover seed in this example, with an 80% germination rate and 65.5% pure seed contained in this bag, you would need to plant about 28 pounds of this seed per acre to be equivalent to the standard seeding rate of 15 pounds per acre of red clover. Notice this is nearly twice the amount of the seeding rate for red clover. Thus, if you only planted 15 pounds of this seed per acre, you would have only applied about half of the seed that is needed for a successful stand. Don’t let this simple step keep you from realizing the fruits of your labor and achieving successful food plots to benefit your deer management program