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Best food plot in December?
Winter is here! For all of you guys who plant food plots what do you consider to be the best for this time of year?
Good question. In my very, very limited experience....I noticed the snow flattened and covered all of the soft clovers I put in. I did not see any indication the deer were trying to paw thru the snow to get to it. So....because we get alot of snow up this ways, I'm thinking next year some taller and sturdier plants maybe be in order. All the wheat I put in one plot is still showing but they have been chewed halfway down the stem. Off the top of my head....I'm thinking corn, turnips, beets, New Zealand clover, etc....things along that line.
Corn and beans are pretty tough to beat, IMO. Not sure if one is any better than the other one. I’ve watched them start out in the beans, then work their way over into the corn during the same evening set. Brassicas/turnips are usually a good bet as well, especially when it gets really cold. Oddly, this year they were pounding my brassicas plot below my house early, but I’m seeing minimal usage of it the past few weeks. There are plenty of bulbs and a good amount of foliage as well. Hopefully, they’ll start up again on it during the late season.
For me right now it’s radish. There is a tremendous amount of standing beans in ah fields this year and that’s the destination food source right now but they are hammering the radish plots on the way out.
Pat, two for me...
Standing soybeans I broadcasted rye grain into at leaf turn and
A mixture of rye grain, sugar beets and winter bulbs, winter peas and both red and white clover. This plot will have clover frost seeded into it in February and will be a spring/summer feeding area. This idea was from Paul at the old QDMA.
In my area of NY corn followed by rye that was planted early Sept. Actually they hit the rye better until we get several inches of snow. They don't want to work for the rye than so they go to the corn. Standing corn near good security or thermal cover right now is killer as we got 21"s of snow today. Shawn
Beans if you have a way to protect them or acreage. If not then I like awnless wheat and clover.
#1 Wheat or triticale. #2 Alfalfa. #3 a mixture of everything else. If I don't have wheat, I'm in panic mode. Deer love winter wheat. It stays green all winter long and they love it. Alfalfa or clover is a close second. Very palatable through the cold months. My deer never have really gotten used to turnips. They eat them but not like the wheat and alfalfa. I usually have cut beans and milo and the deer will go there in the winter but not like they do with the wheat.
For me in Idaho it’s anything that grows. Rye and wheat of course and alfalfa and clover still alive but a big attractant is Small burnet. It’s an evergreen forb.
The Bowhunter's Buffet= standing beans (late maturation variety) with Grandpa Ray's Frosty Delight (Winfred Brassica, kale, radish, forage turnip and rutabaga) overseeded into the beans at 10-12#/acre in late July, then overseed witner rye and winter oats (125lbs/acre in early September).
Wheat, because that’s about all I plant. I usually have som red clover in there also but wheat or rye for my location. These deer won’t eat brassicas.
Soybeans, but they rarely last into December in small plots. Next is winter rye or wheat. Brassicas will be long-since dead or rotted by mid to late December here. Standing corn would probably be the ultimate, but is not an easy crop to grow, for the simple food plotter.
I can tell you this... My rye, clover and turnips have shown absolutely ZERO appeal to the deer. Here we are in December, plenty of cold weather to have "sweetened up" the turnips, no snow on the ground to cover them, and the deer still won't sniff 'em. Very frustrating!
"I can tell you this... My rye, clover and turnips have shown absolutely ZERO appeal to the deer. Here we are in December, plenty of cold weather to have "sweetened up" the turnips, no snow on the ground to cover them, and the deer still won't sniff 'em. Very frustrating!" I have the same results with turnips and rye. My deer won't touch turnips, they love wheat, they seem to like clover (in the winter), and they are starting to love pumpkins. Pumpkins took a couple of years to take but they hammer them now.
I think I might try digging up a pile's worth of turnips and see if that draws some attention and primes some interest. I'll report back if anything changes.
Wheat has more nutrition and is more palatable than rye. Oats don't hold up as well in the winter. They say triticale is closer to rye than wheat but I've had really good luck with it. Maybe because it's different than wheat and there is usually plenty of wheat around. It's basically a wheat/rye cross. I've not had great luck with turnips but last winter when there was extended snow cover and extremely cold spells, I was glad I had the turnips. Research has shown that a deer will only eat 60% of any one thing at a time. Even if you have the best food out there, they will still eat 40% of something else every day, if they can. I've been really happy to have wheat in the winter, then soy beans, then milo, then wheat again starting in September. I have alfalfa, clover, turnips, fruit trees, acorns and all the poison ivy they could possibly want the rest of the time. Just joking about the ivy. I don't know if deer actually eat it but I have plenty of it.
BagginBigguns (and others),
It took "my deer" the second year to figure out they could eat the brassicas and the third year to figure out eating the bulbs. Now it sounds like they are crunching on apples.
Brassicas=amazing tonnage/acre enhancer
Mark, I've heard that it might take a few years for deer to get used to turnips but I've been planting them for at least 8 years. They still aren't impressed. They eat them but not like the other plants. They really don't do much with them until at least January. We'll see how this winter goes.
I have had the same experience with brassicas as Catscratch and BagginBs. I don't get it...
I planted Frigid Forage Winter Greens two years in a row. I had fabulous looking plots but the deer never touched them. I’ve also scattered purple top turnips within my wheat and deer never touched them either. I dug up some and left them on top of the ground and even the hogs wouldn’t eat them. I’m done with any kind of brassicas. Daikon radish is a different story. They ate them to the ground quickly. I don’t know if they are classified as brassicas or not, but I’d plant them again.
My property is in the sand hills of central KS. Have to deal with sugar sand for some plots and limited moisture. A mix of rye and purple top turnips has consistently been our best plots. We’ve planted everything and year in and year out rye gives us the best plots that hold deer.
Broadcast potash on the turnips or any bulbs about 3 weeks before the annual freeze date. That blows the usage through the roof in my plots in east central wisconsin. Had 24 antlerless deer in my acre of sugar beets within sight of the house tonight
Forage Turnip, Forage Rape from Evolved Habits or Biologic with the similar mixture ...
A side thought with those seeds you buy in the store. I had a thread about the content labels a while back. Some of those products have alot of inert material (seed coating) making up a large percentage of the product. I'm not sure how necessary it is to use coated seeds or if there is value in buying those with high percentages of inert material? I took these pics a few days back. That might be something to consider when looking for winter plot seeds.
Sitting in Missouri at the moment on a bow hunt. My observations this week are beans and corn are drawing the deer. Several turnip and rye plots with nice bulbs on them. Deer are walking through them to go to the corn and beans. Temps have ranged from 20-50degrees no change in food preference.
Pat, After doing all your food plot reviews for the last few years I thought you would be the last person asking this question. I find your write ups very useful. I, too, want to find a plot that attracts deer in two feet of snow but then I start thinking "what, are you crazy, why do you want to hunt in two feet of snow and temps below freezing?" I would rather find food plots that have enough forage to get through the rut and hopefully by then my hunt is over.
Well......I suppose I could always use my snowblower to clean off the plots when the real snow hits.
Hard to beat standing corn, especially with 2 or 3 ft of snow on the ground.
Mark how are you overseeding into your beans in late July? My beans are waist-high by then. I sure would like to get something else growing in those bean fields to extend their use into the winter. Once the locusts (deer) go through the beans, my fields look like Pat’s above.
Beans and corn as long as they're around. After that it takes big cold to get them turned to brassicas and turnips. Right now in Ohio my turnips and radishes are laying thick and not getting touched.
JSW, I've had the same experience with straight turnip plots.
I would do a four or five brassica blend VS straight turnips....the key is variety!
Mad Trapper, You're lucky your beans are waist high by late July!!
If I had your situation, I would overseed a brassica blend in early july ....the key is to do it when the sunlight can still get to the ground!
Then, come back and overseed with winter oats and winter rye in early September. The beans will drop their leaves (on the seed) and you will get a nice green carpet under your beans for October-December!
Good luck guys!
This year it has been my corn and soybeans. We have 8 inches of snow covering our food plots. Last week I watched 16 deer walk through a 3-way blend of clover, into the standing soybeans and then into the standing corn. My Brassica mix has been hammered and really not many tracks in them at all. All of the above is in a 3 acre food plot. BC
I grow rutabagas for my own use. Never had a deer touch them even when I left some in the ground. Sweet pumpkins I grow for pies get hit though. My small orchard is full of apples. The village deer would rather eat grain in people’s back yards. I live in zone 3 so food plots are a waste of time up here. The best food plot up here for our deep woods deer is a logging operation. They hammer the tops. They can hear a chainsaw for miles.