Food Plotting in Southern Iowa

I spent the last two days doing fall plots in southern Iowa. I only got three plots done out of the five that I was planning on doing. The remaining two will be put in pending the weather in late August or early September.


I have quite the story from the last two days. This may be lengthy. That's your warning.


I ordered my food plot seed back in April from my favorite seed/supplement/mineral company, Rackology, LLC (of which I am a dealer for), and I never opened the box once it arrived until Monday mid-morning when I was throwing the bags onto the tractor outside of one of my farms, of which is a tractor that a good friend of mine let me borrow. I found out that instead of getting 5 acres worth of brassica blends, I got 1 acre of brassica blend and 4 acres of "Plot 365", a blend of mostly clovers and some chicory. So, I took half of the brassicas to use on a 1/2 acre plot, and I left 1/2 acre of brassica seed in the box. While I was doing this plot, I realized the front left tire was a little low... dry rot. Whoops! I still managed to get this plot mowed and burned, tilled, seeded, and finished just as a huge gust of 40-60mph winds came in from the huge storm that wiped out east-central Iowa. This was the tail of the storm on the south end. My seed went flying! Then we got a few rain drops, enough to soak my shirt but not enough to hardly settle the dirt. I loaded the tractor back up, and realized at this point that I had somehow managed to find some old fencing wire in the dirt/grass that the tiller sucked up. I didn't have any tools with me to take it off or cut it off, so I just left it on. The tiller still worked. I was pooped out, but I went to the next farm about 40 mins away and got ready to go.


As I put the truck in park, I could see this fast-approaching front coming at me from about 5 miles away. Within minutes, it was a solid rain. That shut down operations for the day. The tractor/tiller/fertilizer/urea/spreader wouldn't make it up the hills to the next two plots with any wetness. So, I decided to call it a day, head to the hotel, and rest. I then was able to think about ratio'ing the remaining brassica seed into the clover mix seed. Yet, I just bought 10 bags of each fertilizer (12-12-12) and urea (46%). Urea (nitrogen) kills clover, so now I have $160 worth of urea that I won't use. Nice.


The next morning, I got up and got back to the farm, unloaded, and headed to the plots. It was dewy out, and the tractor got a little tipsy on the hill, enough for my front end to come off the ground 8-12". Without dying, I was able to redistribute the weight to the front of the tractor, and then I made it up the hill. Left front tire still low but not flat. I mowed and tilled the plot to find out in the last 5-10 mins of tilling, the back right tire on the tractor was separated from the rim, but still drivable. Sh*t!!! I hurried the tractor as peacefully as I could back to the trailer 850 yards away and somehow managed to get it loaded without destroying the trailer or tiller (the tiller was dragging just enough because of that back right tire). I drove 45 minutes to the tire place, got that tire patched and fixed (the fence wire punctured it the day before - shake my head), and we got a tube into the front left dry-rot tire. I was back in business. I headed back to the plot to seed it and finished it.


Then, I mowed my way to the next plot on the opposite end of this section of timber where I had sprayed 9 days prior. I still needed to mow as it wasn't completely dry enough to burn. Then, I started tilling. I got about 50' before my buddy, who I am borrowing the tractor from, calls me. In that split second, I missed an old horse rope / lasso in the dirt and the tiller sucked it up. The tiller locked hard! Another sh*t!!! moment. Pardon my language. I didn't have any tools to cut it, and I was left with no other option than to burn it off the tiller. That was fun. Thankfully, I had my torch with me to burn the plots. After that, I got back to tilling. I then managed to scoop up a ton, maybe 100-150' worth of old bailing twine that sucked up into the tiller so much that it could barely cut dirt. Back to the burn method. Without lighting the tractor on fire, I got that burned off. By now, it was 7pm, and I had to finish tilling, fertilizing, seeding, finishing. I got down just after 8pm. I then headed back and saw the most beautiful sunset.


That was the most challenging food plotting that I have ever encountered. Tractor problems. User error. Bad luck. Etc. It all happened. I just hope that we can score some bucks in those plots this fall. Now, I just need it to rain. The forecasted rain is now down at 30% chance instead of 60%. It is now out of my hands, but hey, a guy can dream and try his best, right?

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