Imperial Whitetail CLOVER The Most Significant Food Plot Forage Product Ever

By Whitetail Institute Staff

Number One. The Gold Standard. The Genesis. The Breakthrough. The Industry’s Benchmark for Quality and Performance. All these distinctions describe Imperial Whitetail Clover. Even so, no single tribute can do Imperial Whitetail Clover justice because it is all of these, and more. In fact, today we can see in hindsight that Imperial Whitetail Clover is the single most important food plot breakthrough ever in the history of the industry.


 I’m very blessed to have a dad who took a lot of time taking me hunting since I was a little boy. I can’t thank him enough. We are fortunate to have a good place to hunt. We’ve killed a lot of deer over the years on this place, and some of them were good decent bucks.

Celebrate the Fusion

By Scott Bestul

The plot, a quarter-acre chunk of creek-bottom perfection, is a spot where I’ve never killed a deer. If you’re wondering why, it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years, experimenting with different plantings, and giving my trail cameras a workout.

The reasons I love this plot so much are simple: I have a mock scrape on its edge that provides some of the best buck pictures I get every season. It also has good soil, so the plot serves as the perfect place for me to test different forage plantings each year. In short, it’s already a place bucks want to go, so the better the food plot is that season, the better the pics I get on my cameras. When spring rolled around two years ago, I seeded the plot to Imperial Whitetail Fusion, which is a blend of the newest Imperial Whitetail Clover and the Whitetail Institute’s WINA-100 chicory. The deer were attracted to the Fusion very quickly, they focused most heavily on the clover early, and they began to heavily utilize the chicory too as summer morphed into fall. I soon realized that by planting my favorite food plot to Fusion, I’d made it better than ever before.

Real-World Results

Another huge fan of Fusion is Jason Say, a veteran hunter from northwest Pennsylvania and developer of Wired Outdoors an online portal for whitetail nuts and outdoorsman of all types. “I started planting Fusion as soon as it became available,” Jason says. “Last year, I planted 14 plots here in Pennsylvania. Six of them were devoted totally or partially to Fusion. Last fall, my wife and my daughter shot their first deer ever while hunting a Fusion plot, so that alone would make me a pretty big fan.” Say is a veteran food plotter who knows how to grow forages that attract deer. “Fusion grows best in good soil that holds moisture,” he said. “And like any food plot, a successful Fusion plot will be one where you decide to do everything right. Here in Pennsylvania, we have rocky soils left in the wake of strip mining for coal. It isn’t deep, dark soil like they have in the Midwest. So, getting the soil ready for a plot is a process. “I also preach this hard to people: soil test, lime and fertilize. We do laboratory soil tests through the Whitetail Institute, and then follow the lab’s recommendations for lime and fertilizer,” Say says. “Without a soil test, you’re left to just playing the odds that your plot will be successful. Some guys stare at you with a blank look and never seem to get it. People who nod their heads and do the hard work of preparation, though, are invariably happy with their results. I know we sure are.” favorites — year after year in the same plot. You plant them for a season or two and then shift that section of the plot into perennials for a while to let the soil recover. “Another benefit to splitting plots is it helps increase the attraction of deer to that area even further by adding variety. Regardless of the phase of the season, you’ve got something growing there that whitetails prefer. In the early season here, deer gravitate toward perennials like Imperial Whitetail Clover and Fusion. As fall progresses and colder weather sets in, their preference often shifts toward annuals like Winter-Greens and Beets and Greens. Splitting the plot into two different products helps ensure variety and keeps deer close by during both the early and late seasons.”
Seeding Fusion is a fairly easy process,” Say notes. “Like other Whitetail Institute perennials, Fusion is a blend of small seeds, which should be left on top of the prepared seedbed. The planting instructions on the bag tell you exactly how to do that. [Editor’s Note: The Seedbed Preparation and Planting Instructions for each Whitetail Institute food plot product can also be found at] Because he’s a deer hunter as much as a deer farmer, Say has experimented to see what works best for whitetails in his hunting area. “I almost always split my plots between annual and perennial plantings,” he said. “Part of the reason is that I’ve learned some sort of rotation is preferable. You can’t grow good annuals — like Winter-Greens, which is one of my


As I mentioned earlier, one reason Jason is such a big fan of Fusion is that his wife and daughter shot their first deer ever while hunting a Fusion plot. To that he adds, “The quality of my deer has substantially improved since I’ve been planting food plots. I killed my best buck ever last fall. A great 154-inch Pennsylvania buck.” Like Jason, I’ve been using Whitetail Institute products long enough to know the company doesn’t introduce something new unless it’s been thoroughly researched, tested and proven to ensure it will be a winner. It appears Fusion has met that standard with room to spare, and I expect it to be a cornerstone of my food-plotting strategy for years.  

Extend Life of Plots with Frost Seeding

By Craig Dougherty

When my son and I design food plot programs, our staple has always been clover — Imperial Whitetail Clover to be exact. We’ve been running it for years, and it feeds the deer we hunt. It greens up early and stays late. Ever see a deer paw through the snow to chomp down on clover? I have. We’ve learned a few things about clover through the years. Mostly, we’ve learned that if you take good care of your clover plots, they will take good care of you and your deer.

Replanting your food plots every couple of years is an amateur move. It wastes time and money. The real pros can get many more years than that out of a clover plot. That means keeping it relatively weed free and freshening it every so often. Herbicide applications and strategic mowing will help handle weeds, but the freshening-up part will require some effort — very little, actually — especially if your food plots are planted in a part of the country where the ground freezes in winter. Frozen ground opens the door for what we call frost seeding. It’s one of the simplest food plot procedures you will ever do. If you can walk a food plot and figure out how to spread seed, you can master frost seeding. All you need is winter temperatures that freeze the ground for extended periods, a spring thaw and, of course, some seed. Each winter, water in the ground freezes and then thaws in spring.

Typically, spring thawing occurs when night temperatures are still at or below freezing and daytime temperatures warm. The freezing ground expands (because of ice forming), and the thawing ground contracts as the ice gives up its form. The continuous cycle of freezing and thawing forces the top few inches to open and close regularly. This cycle continues until nighttime temperatures typically remain above freezing. This expansion and contraction allows particles of matter (including seed) to enter the ground and make contact with the soil. This opening and closing action allows seeds to enter the ground and be planted. The time to frost seed is when the frost is leaving the ground in early spring. Typically, across most of the North, this lasts for two to three weeks. The ground often takes on a honeycomb appearance during the frost-leaving phase of the spring thaw. Walking on the morning ground typically sounds like walking on cornflakes or potato chips.

The freeze/thaw cycle allows the seed to penetrate the uppermost layer of soil and gives your seeds a reasonable chance of germinating and surviving. The open ground allows the seed to work into the earth and make contact with the soil. The soil contact will result in seed germination. No special equipment is required, and the results can be satisfactory. Not all ground freezes in winter. Don’t confuse a frost with a frozen ground. You need frozen ground for frost seeding. An overnight frost or light freeze is different. Frosts and light freezes are temporary events that often leave a thin coating of ice on anything containing moisture. Frozen ground refers to a condition when the first few inches (or feet) of earth freeze for extended periods. I live in an area of New York where the ground freezes a foot or more during most winters. Our plots are concrete-hard in winter, but sometime in April, the sun gets higher in the sky, and the spring thaw and frost seeding can begin. If you don’t want to work with the freeze-thaw cycle, you can spread your seed directly on the snow. We like to do it in spring so the seed doesn’t have to be exposed to the elements for extended periods.

Also, if you snow seed too early, you cannot always be certain about where your seed will wind up. Melting snow has a bothersome way of transporting seed from where it was intended to grow to somewhere downstream. You can seed on top of snow if you happen to catch a spring snow or the final snow of the year. This type of snow typically doesn’t hang around for long. Around here, we call it an onion snow. A note of caution: If you spread seed after the ground has already passed through the freeze/thaw cycle, you might be simply spreading your seed on bare ground. You need the opening and closing of the ground to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Without it, germination will be limited. You can only frost seed if you have frozen ground at the start. Many parts of the country do not experience the opening and closing conditions typical of spring thawing in Northern climes. Frost seeding is a surefire way to breathe new life into a tired food plot. A good clover plot should be able to produce tons of forage per acre. A tired or worn-out plot might produce only a few hundred pounds. A frost seeding can bring it back to producing tons of fresh clover forage per acre per season.

Sometimes, we spread seed over the entire plot. Other times, we just hit the bare spots. It depends on how things looked the previous year. We mark our bare spots the previous year so we will know where the seed is needed next spring when everything looks the same. We use a hand-held spreader for most of the seeding, but we sometimes throw out a few handfuls. We always have a bag of clover handy when we are hunting sheds or celebrating spring with a walk around or ATV trip around the hunting property. We mostly use Imperial Whitetail clover seed, but you can also use other hard seeds, such as chicory. Frost seeding will not work with soft seeds as they might rot waiting for ideal growing conditions. You can spread seed over an acre in a few minutes. When you look at the cost and time it takes to construct a food plot from scratch, a few pounds of clover seed is pretty cheap. It can take you an entire day to build a new plot from scratch—and a lot more money. A freshened plot can mean the difference between feeding a few deer and feeding a dozen deer all summer. You shouldn’t restrict your thinking to food plots when considering frost seeding. We also use frost seeding in out-of-the-way places such as logging roads, woodland openings and any place we find bare soil on our property We do a lot of frost seeding on log landings. They are common on most hunting properties and shouldn’t be left to turn into mud and weeds. No one can turn a clearing into a pile of mud and ruts like a log crew. A little frost seeding can make it right in a few minutes. Frost seedings don’t germinate as well as planting on seedbeds prepared with traditional cultivation tools and procedures.

Nothing beats a well-prepared seedbed for germination and initial stand development. Limitations aside, frost seeding has its place in food plotting. You work too hard on your food plots to be planting new ones every year or two. Some frost seeding and loving care can keep your plots feeding deer for years.  

Planting Spring Perennials… WORTH THE WORK

By Scott Bestul

That’s a line from a Tennyson poem that’s stuck in my head since my days as a college English major. Which, as those who know me realize, was a very long time ago. And even then, when I had girls on the brain and found myself in a target rich environment, spring wasn’t about searching for love. It was about turkey hunting. And trout fishing. And picking a bunch of mushrooms. If a young lady wanted to tag along, that was, of course, more than OK with me. As long as she didn’t get in the way too much.


 Five years ago, my family was fortunate enough to purchase a small 25-acre parcel of land in North Dakota. The property is situated in the middle of a winding valley that cuts its way through open crop fields and pasture land.

Whitetail Institute Customers Do the Talking About Whitetail Institute’s Soil Testing Service

   Having your soil tested by a qualified soil testing laboratory before you buy lime or fertilizer can make the difference between the best food plot you can imagine and total failure.