Drought is not an uncommon issue to deal with in the United States, especially when it comes to Arizona and New Mexico. However, this year the drought has been so intense that helping wildlife and keeping up food crops – as well as native vegetation – has been almost impossible.
Making headlines is the Middle Rio Grande Valley, which has suffered a severe drought for almost two years now; a drought that all meteorologists are predicting will last long into the future. It has gotten to the point where even a normal amount of rainfall will not be enough to end the conditions.
Landowners and wildlife managers are dealing with the fact that extra work and time needs to be invested in order to keep up the overall health of their property. What helps is that some plants react to droughts instinctively, slowing their water intake and conserving the water they already have in the roots. But one myth to be debunked is the fact that when grass turns into a yellowish-hardened state it is actually dead, which is untrue. The grass is literally conserving the water it has in order not to die.
Water to plants is just as important as water is to people. Without water, the plant can not germinate and make food for the surrounding wildlife through photosynthesis. Sunlight, water and carbon dioxide is absolutely necessary for this process; hence, when a drought comes upon the land the grass and vegetation simply go into a catatonic state – no growth but no death…yet.
Food plots must be planted and they must thrive even in the most difficult conditions to support the surrounding herds; they must thrive in order for those herds to grow and maintain overall health. Getting a food crop planted and begun is hard enough without the added extra of having to grow the crop when the water simply isn’t there. The hunters in the Southwest have invested a great deal of time and money in order for the food plots to win the battle over the drought; however, some feel the battle is being lost. Again, untrue. Even though the extremely long, dry spell has caused the crops to wither, success can be had!
The first way to create that food plot in order to give it a better chance of living, is to make sure the soil has the right amount of nutrients before planting ever begins. Having that soil tested, realizing what minerals are lacking and then working to achieve healthy soil before the planting is even thought about, is a necessity. Plants can and will survive the stress of a drought far better if they are given the proper fertilizer and the pH level in the soil is balanced. Then, once that is accomplished, choosing the exact seed and plantings that are made to work well in a dry climate is the next step.
Blends from the experienced team at Mossy Oak are expressly made to meet the challenges of a long, dry weather spell because they’re hardy plants that need very little moisture to thrive. By doing these two steps (soil health and then choosing the right plantings) a landowner will be able to grow a healthy stand of crops.
Deer need water and protein in order to reach optimal growth. So in periods of severe drought, food plot acres must be specifically chosen to stand up to the arid land. Getting the moisture needed to begin the growth however, is also a necessity. And mowing or using fertilizers and sprays can be detrimental – not helpful – for the food crop to begin.
With all food crops, the main focus is to be attractive to the deer so they will stay, grow and become homebodies that will help the hunter as well as the property. A pond, stream, or any man-made water source is needed for the whitetail’s health, although the species does consume water from cactus. The cactus is actually made up of 90% water and can offer the deer almost half of what it needs in its diet to achieve good health. The only thing missing is that protein.
Nutritious and appealing forage is what landowners are trying to create during this seemingly unending drought, but because of the fact that there are certain high-protein plants and trees installed with their own drought survival tools, the deer can be saved.
So when the rain clouds are absent, just make sure to follow the steps to creating healthy soil, and then pick the plantings that WILL thrive.