There is no debating that clover is one of the best food plots for deer. However, the challenge is choosing when to plant clover.
Generally, you can plant clover in spring and late summer and some species into early fall.
When to Plant Clover for Deer
|1||Apr 1 – July 1||12||Feb 5 – Mar 1, Sept 25 – Nov 15|
|2||Apr 1 – June 1||13||Feb 15 – Apr 1, Sept 1 – Oct 30|
|3||Apr 15 – June 15, Aug 1 – Sept 1||14||Sept 15 – Nov 15|
|4||Feb 1 – Mar 15, Sept 1 – Oct 15||15||Feb 1 – Mar 1, Sept 1 – Oct 15|
|5||Feb 1 – Apr 1, Aug 1 – Sept 30||16||Sept 25 – Nov 30|
|6||Feb 1 – Apr 15, Sept 1 – Nov 1||17||Mar 1 – May 15, Aug 1 – Sept 15|
|7||Mar 1 – Apr 15, Aug 15 – Oct 15||18||Feb 1 – Apr 15, Aug 20 – Sept 30|
|8||Apr 1 – June 15, July 15 – Sept 5||19||Apr 15 – June 15, July 1 – Aug 15|
|9||Apr 1 – May 15, Aug 1 – Sept 15||20||May 15 – July 1|
|10||Mar 20 – May 15, Aug 1 – Sept 15||21||May 1 – June 15, July 1 – Aug 15|
|11||Sept 15 – Nov 15||22||May 15 – July 1|
This is a handy pocket guide you can bring with you to the field. It will take you step by step on how to field dress big game animals
Best seasons to Plant Clover for Deer
Spring is one of the best seasons to plant clover for herd management. This time of year, deer need a lot of nutrition, and spring clover can readily offer that.
Most southern states can start planting clover as early as February, and northern states can start planting as early as April or May.
One drawback when planting clover in spring is it is often competing with weeds.
One benefit of planting in spring is that the weather is still cool, and there is plenty of spring rain.
Clover doesn’t do well in heat and needs moist or wet conditions to germinate.
Spring is by far the best weather conditions for clover, but as mentioned, it’s also the best weather condition for weeds.
If you are ready to keep on top of the weeds, you could have yourself a strong crop of clover.
Planting clover in summer is not for the faint of heart and can be a battle with weeds, heat, and the lack of rain.
However, much of this is purely depending on your location. If your summers aren’t overbearingly hot and you still get plenty of rain, then summer might be a good time for you.
If you are intending on planting clover in summer, it’s best to wait for late summer if possible. This time of year is not as hot as early summer, and there is a little more rain.
Most hunters like to plant clover in the fall. There are a few reasons for this:
Less Weeds – Clover planted in the fall very rarely has to compete with weeds; most weeds have sprouted and grown in the spring and summer and can be treated before planting clover.
Grows Fast – Most species of clover begin sprouting within a few days and are strong enough to hold a herd of deer in a couple of weeks.
This means that even if you plant your clover in fall, you will still be able to attract and hopefully hold plenty of deer.
Winters Well – If winters aren’t too hard in your area, most species of clover will be able to overwinter. This is great for deer that need nutrition in early spring.
While you can plant clover in spring, as we mentioned, having it that little earlier makes a huge difference for the deer.
Best Weather to Plant Clover for Deer
To give your clover the best start, it’s important to choose the right weather conditions.
While we have mentioned the months and seasons above, that doesn’t tell the whole story because May this year might have different weather than May next year.
The one thing clover needs more than anything else is rain or moisture to some degree.
Clover is best when it’s broadcast and won’t do well if it’s tilled or drilled into the ground.
For this reason, rain is necessary to begin germination. Clover does best with around 30 – 45 inches of rain.
More than this may be too much. If the water stands for more than a week or two the clover will begin to die off.
However, if heavy rain is forecast, it may be worthwhile to wait until after the rain.
Clover seeds will float if the rain begins to pool, leaving patches of areas not covered.
Much of this is down to the condition of the soil. If the soil is tilled this may not be an issue, similarly if you have fast-draining soil, then there may not be anything to worry about.
In most cases, the rain usually helps to work the seed into the ground.
Frost seeding is the practice of broadcasting seeds on frosty grounds and allowing them to seed with the thaw of the frost.
This can be a suitable method of planting for some species of clover seeds but not all types do well with this method.
For the ones that do take well to frost season, it’s best to plant them early spring, just before the thaw begins to take place.
This only works well on well-drained soil, if your soil is likely to pool while thawing you may find some of the seeds will pool together while other areas might be bare.
One of the benefits of frost seeding is it allows the clover to get a stronghold before the weeds begin to grow, leaving for little to no competition.
It is also a great option for early spring plots which is of great benefit to deer.
If at all possible, avoid planting clover in hot weather. Clover doesn’t do well in hot water, and the lack of rain will also cause the crop to fail.
For this reason, most clover food plots are planted in spring and fall. If you must plant in summer it’s best to wait until late summer.
Some seed suppliers have clover seeds that are a summer option, but I have yet to see credible results for clover planted in hot weather.
When to Plant Clover According to Type
Arrowleaf clover is best planted in fall or spring. This clover is a cool-season annual. If planting in spring, it’s best planted in early spring or for frost seeding.
It’s also worth noting that arrowleaf clover is a heavy reseeder.
Berseem is another cool-season annual but doesn’t winter well. This clover is best planted in early fall or late spring.
Crimson clover is best planted in late spring and perhaps one of the better seeds if you must plant in summer.
Frosty Berseem Clover
Frosty Berseem clover is the same as Berseem clover but more tolerant of cold weather.
This can be planted in late fall and early spring.
Ladino Clover is a cool-season perennial legume and one of the best cold-weather tolerant clover seeds.
Ladino clover can be planted in late fall or early spring. It also does well with frost seeding.
Ladino clover also takes well in late summer and early fall.
Red clover has a moderate tolerance of cold weather. It can be planted in early fall in northern regions and late fall in southern states.
Similarly if planting in spring or frost seeding, it’s best to wait until later in the spring.
Clover offers many options for when to plant. When many varieties and different times of year for planting there is something for everyone.
Most species of clover do best in late spring and early fall, this also suits hunters and deer the most.
Some species of clover are suitable for frost seeding, this is great for deer that need early nutrition.