Clemson And Clover

Upstate Outdoors
April 13, 2018 - 10:01 am

Phillip Gentry

Whatever the groundhog did back in February to make Spring time so mad seems to be wearing off and it looks like the Upstate may actually have a summer this year. Of all the things that remind you of summer, wildlife food plots probably aren’t very high on the list, but now it the time to make plans. This thought came to mind as I was noticing a lush stand of white or Dutch clover growing along the side of the road.

It’s funny how a ground cover like white clover and red top clover are a scourge to homeowners who spends many hours and much money to rid their lawns of the plant, yet deer hunters and wildlife managers long for lush stands of the same species on the lands they manage deer on.   

For many years, clover has been considered a noxious lawn weed, but before that it was an important component in establishing greenery around fine homes. Clover is drought-tolerant, virtually immune to diseases, and distasteful to common turf insects. And it generates its own food by fixing nitrogen in the soil.

Many deer hunters and land managers consider perennials like clover to be one of the best year round crops for deer, turkey and other wildlife species, especially those areas where it can be established in large acreage. However, buying clover to plant is relatively expensive compared to the wheat, oats, and other crops typically planted.

To make sure you’re getting the best investment for your planting, it’s best to take some time to insure your soil is up to par before putting any seed in the ground. In the south, 9 times out of 10, acidic soil, meaning low pH is the most common diagnosis for soil problems.

Randomly broadcasting lime, the most commonly used pH balancer, isn’t always the answer either. A better suggestion is that land managers take the time to have their hunting property soil tested. Soil testing is an easy and inexpensive process where the manager takes plug samples from the land and delivers them to the local Clemson University Cooperative Extension office for analysis. County offices are located in many counties across the state or samples can be taken directly to the Agricultural Services Lab at Clemson University.

According to lab technicians, the lab will need about a pint of soil, preferably taken from 4 separate corners of the area being planted. You can put this in a clean container and take it to one of the extension county offices or bring it to the Agricultural Services Lab at Clemson.

The average turnaround time for soil analysis is about 5 days and the Laboratory will submit a report by e-mail providing the standard mineral content of your soil, it’s pH levels and provide instructions on mineral applications for maintaining optimum soil fertility levels and proper soil pH values to help attain maximum plant growth and economic yields. The cost of the soil analysis is $6 and a schedule of additional testing costs can be found on the website.

If time permits, better yield will be seen if the soil is balanced before summer planting starts, but is not a must have. Allowing enough time will benefit future crops but is not an absolute to get your food plots started.

The Clemson University Agricultural Services Lab is located at 171 Old Cherry Road in Clemson. The phone is 864-656-2068. Website -


Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," broadcast noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. The show can also be heard online at live or via podcast. This week, the show will be broadcast live from the SC State Chili Cook-off at the Square in Belton, SC


What many consider an invasive weed in their lawns is a highly desired wildlife food on the deer land. Paying a visit to your local Clemson Extension can help with the second part. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

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