The Drought is Over! Blog Entry by Don Higgins

Most people in the Midwest will never forget the drought of 2012. It was bad … REAL BAD! Many farmers in the corn-belt just mowed down their corn because it produced almost no grain. As bad as the 2012 drought was, for me personally the drought of 2017 was worse.

This year I had the worst food plots of my life. My spring-planted soybean plots never had a chance. From the time I put the seed in the ground they struggled due to lack of moisture. Instead of growing they stalled out at about the 6” stage, then as deer and other wildlife browsed on them they couldn’t recover. Next came the weeds. Since the soybeans did not grow and canopy, or shade the ground, the weeds came on with a vengeance. Eventually the weeds dominated the plot to the point that I decided to kill everything and start over with fall-planted blends.

In early August I planted numerous plots in Real Worlds new Deadly Dozen blend. This is actually about 2-3 week earlier than I normally plant my fall plots. I wanted to make sure my seed was in the ground when we finally got a rain. Guess what? The rains didn’t come. Oh sure, we got a couple of rains amounting to less than half an inch but the dust just soaked that up as if it never happened.

Planted in August, the seed did germinate but the plants stalled out once they were a few inches tall due to the drought.

I was a little surprised when some of the seed did germinate under those tough conditions. The young plants got to a few inches tall and just stalled as if they had used the last of their energy reserves to get to a certain point and could grow no further.

When season opened last weekend my plots were pathetic and I wondered how many first-time plotters were experiencing the same thing and thinking that it is always this way. It is not. 2017 provided us the worst planting and growing conditions I have ever experienced. If there is a lesson to be learned it is “don’t give up”.

Two days ago we finally got rain. I woke up and looked outside and thought “maybe we finally got an inch this time”. When I checked the rain gauge I was surprised and thrilled to see 3.2”! This is what we needed a month ago but I will take it. Thank you Lord!

With rain, Deadly Dozen exploded with growth literally over night!

Today I decided to check a couple of plots and see just how they had responded to the rain they so desperately needed. I was astounded to see how quickly they had greened up and exploded with growth. I had seen the plots just a few days earlier and wondered if they would provide anything for the deer on my properties this fall and winter. Today there is no doubt.

Having been in business nearly 10 years now, I have talked to hundreds if not thousands of Real World Wildlife Products customers. I have heard their suggestions and their success stories and their complaints. I find it amazing that often the first thing to get blamed when something goes wrong is the seed. There are dozens of things that could go wrong but the seed is the first thing looked at with much scrutiny. Rarely is seed the culprit.

2017 provided an opportunity for many of us in the Midwest to see firsthand that you can have great seed and do everything else right but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, your plots will not be a success. With that said, the weather is just one thing in a long chain of events and issues can derail the whole process. We at Real World find ourselves often advising our customers to “be patient”. This year we had to take our own advice. Finally we have some great looking plots.

There are 12 comments

By Brian | October 9, 2017 at 12:03 pm

I am in your area, and the plants in my plots did exactly as you described. I have 3 plots all about half acre. 1 clover and 2 deadly dozen.
The only difference is that I have not gone back to check my deadly dozen since we got that 3.2″. I did check a clover plot that was nothing but dirt and am happy to see the entire field has a green tint due to the clover/chicory coming up. I am very exited to go check cameras at my other plots. Will be neat to see the growth time lapse on camera hopefully.

By Duane Hopkins | October 9, 2017 at 1:35 pm

When planted at the recommended seeding rate, this is what the Deadly Dozen is suppose to look like. Enough room for all the species to grow and mature offering 12 different highly attractive species for fall and winter grazing. – Duane Hopkins, Seed Specialist, Real World Wildlife Products

By ed | October 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm

do you really need to lime your food plots especially ones carved out of the “woods”

By Terry Peer | October 10, 2017 at 9:50 am

It all depends on your soil test. A soil test will tell you what you need. Different areas require different things. This $7 to $15 investment is the best money you will ever spend if you are doing food plots. Good luck!

By Mark A. | October 9, 2017 at 5:57 pm

I planted corn and RW soybeans late this spring. After the initial burn down with Roundup, the rain’s kept me out of the fields to the point that I had to spray the weeds a second time before planting. After green up, I sprayed for weeds hoping the plants would canopy and block out the weeds. That didn’t happen. The water hemp grew even after being sprayed. I let the corn go as it soon towered over the weeds, but I sprayed everything else with Liberty. Seems the weeds are becoming Roundup tolerant. I then planted fall seeds, Harvest Salad with some Plot topper. We have gotten some rain, but I haven’t been back for several weeks. Hopefully the food plots will have greened up too.

By Terry Peer | October 10, 2017 at 9:51 am

Hopefully you are in good shape. Mother nature drives all our success sometimes. We have had good luck with Authority XL pre-emergent for round-up tolerant weeds.

By Chip Paddock | October 9, 2017 at 11:29 pm

I live in Central Illinois, and have a similar story. I used whitetail harvest salad (WHS), as I have in years past, trying to get it in the ground by sept 1. It was really close to that date when the weather forecast called for the best chance of rain we’ve had in weeks, so I quickly got it planted. And this year I also bought a jug of plot topper, and spread it as recommended down the middle of my plot. For weeks, no rain, for weeks, not much growth. I was very discouraged and was ready to write off the plots for this year. I was not blaming the seed, however. This was solely due to the lack of participation from Mother Nature.
Before we actually got some October rain, during the driest of weeks of Sept, one plant in particular started growing bigger. Big leafy heads with a bulb underneath. Since I only used WHS in the past, I was not familiar with this green, but knew it was one of the seeds in the plot topper.
Now we’ve had some rain, and things are improving daily. My wheat is coming in, and today I noticed many strands/vines of the winter peas as well! The plot went from an acre of dead brown, to plush green in a day or two! Deer are feeding in it nightly. I still think it could use more rain, but it’s in the forecast so we will see!
Thanks to RWWP for providing a quality product, and for sharing the recommendation of just “hang in there”. It was worth the wait!

By Terry Peer | October 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

Thanks for your business Chip. Hopefully more rain will keep them going for a great season ahead!

By Chip Paddock | October 14, 2017 at 8:45 am

So far so good and more rain today! Where can I upload some pics for you?

By Craig Schilling | October 10, 2017 at 8:30 am

We had just the opposite in Central WI. My beans stalled out at 4 inches for a month due to TOO MUCH rain. We had the wettest year I can remember and i’m in a lower wetland area. So, my beans looked bad for a long time as they sat in saturated ground and water, they did eventually grow though. I didn’t kill the weeds till the beans were about 6 inches and weeds were just as high. I couldn’t get in with my tractor, just too wet. Finally sprayed them July 12th or so, the weeds died, the soiled dried a little, the beans started growing. These beans were weeks behind the farmers beans and I thought I was screwed. Well it just happens that they made it to maturity, stayed green in WI till about last week. Which is about 3 or 4 weeks longer than the other beans around me. The deer never really found the beans either, they matured so late the deer were on everything else. I have plants loaded with pods and they are finally turning yellow. In 3 weeks the deer are going to be pounding the snot out of them.

We had the opposite, but it worked out in the end. It was so wet, i planted RWWP clover blend on a trail through the woods in JULY….JULY 25 to be exact. NOT ideal time to grow clover for sure. The stuff has to be 5 inches tall by now I think. I haven’t really gone to look in a month, but it was around 3+ inches 4-5 weeks ago. My oats were planted at normal time, growing well…which were planted with RWWP clover blend, I haven’t hunted those plots, but with bino’s, I can see lot’s of green. I don’t know if the clover is up, but the oats look like a green carpet.

I agree, it’s not the seeds fault. You can’t change mother nature, all you can change is your plans.

By Terry Peer | October 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

Thanks for your business and comment Craig. Our customer base has had drastic ends of the spectrum with rain this year. Best wishes on a great season this year!

By Craig Prince | October 10, 2017 at 8:17 pm

My Real World beans did exactly the same thing got to 6-8″ then stalled due to the lack of rain and once the deer started browsing on them they didn’t stand a chance. They are probably around 10″ tall now but did produce some beans so I decided to let it go and figured the deer will have something to eat off them. I did plant some Deadly Dozen and Plot Topper in different plots next to the beans and was lucky enough to get some rain on them just when I needed them.

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