Being born and raised in north central Pennsylvania and growing up hunting in back mountain areas, now often referred to as the Pennsylvania Wilds region, clover simply was not to be found anywhere. My introduction to using it as a food source for wildlife was planting a few old one to two-acre log landings with fellow camp members to draw whitetails. At that time, I was much more the deer hunter than grouse hunter, but I do remember beyond the deer and occasional turkey that grouse would usually be found on the edges in the summer time.
Those log landing plantings were usually quite the undertaking, requiring a herbicide treatment, soil testing, a heavy spread of lime to balance the PH followed by a coating of granulated fertilizer and of course the clover seed. All effort was followed up with the hope of a decent rain. I found myself lugging bags of lime and fertilizer to my own spots on logging roads near my treestands. Using hand tools, the process was slightly different beginning with raking away leaf litter and loosening up the dirt with a metal garden rake. Eventually, I achieved the same end result, a nice 10 by 40-foot plot of clover that didn’t take long to receive guests.
Being an edge bird, planting clover on old, closed logging roads can make it all the better for grouse. If you have a private piece of land with an offer for natural gas pad or pipeline right-of-way, you may be able to negotiate with the gas company to seed the new opening in clover if you do so before an agreement is reached. Also, consider using this time of year to do the work yourself and recruit the help of others that hunt the property in question, as it’ll also benefit other game animals.
The process is relatively simple but will take some work. To make sure your efforts aren’t for naught, test the soil PH. There are plenty of kits out there allowing you to do this on your own, most all clovers require a PH higher than 6. The size of your planting area and soil PH will determine how many pounds of lime you’ll need to broadcast and mix into the area. Again, there is plenty of agricultural information out there for instruction – often on the lime bags themselves. If you opted to test the soil yourself and didn’t get a recommendation for fertilizer type or amounts, generally clover does well with 0-23-23 or 6-24-24 blends. Make sure you opt for fast acting lime and a smaller granulated fertilizer if you plan on seeding within a few weeks.
If you’re not completely sure on what clover to get, RGS has a seed mix specifically blended for trails, logging roads and food plots. It’s available here – Trail & Food Plot Mix