Sitka Mountain Gear
Tips on Turnips
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Mule Power 18-Dec-19
goyt 18-Dec-19
Catscratch 18-Dec-19
Smtn10PT 18-Dec-19
Kydeer1 18-Dec-19
goyt 18-Dec-19
t-roy 18-Dec-19
Habitat 18-Dec-19
mattandersen 18-Dec-19
SJJ 18-Dec-19
goyt 18-Dec-19
t-roy 18-Dec-19
jingalls 18-Dec-19
JL 18-Dec-19
CAMP DAVID 18-Dec-19
Grasshopper 18-Dec-19
t-roy 18-Dec-19
Bowmania 18-Dec-19
Zbone 18-Dec-19
Shuteye 18-Dec-19
BIG BEAR 18-Dec-19
Zbone 18-Dec-19
Catscratch 18-Dec-19
Zbone 18-Dec-19
Mule Power 19-Dec-19
t-roy 19-Dec-19
BullBuster 19-Dec-19
t-roy 19-Dec-19
Grasshopper 25-Dec-19
Grasshopper 25-Dec-19
Grasshopper 25-Dec-19
Shuteye 25-Dec-19
From: Mule Power
18-Dec-19
I’m thinking about putting in some plots with various things one of them being purple top turnips. I’m looking for some dos and don’ts... pointers from anyone who has planted them with success.

Years ago I was on a late season bow hunt in Ohio. It was early February and absolutely frigid with about a half inch of ice on top of 6 inches of snow. The property I was hunting had one section with turnips. The deer didn’t even look at anything else. The guy who leased the property said once they freeze they get sweet. I’m looking for something that will help with late season archery in Pennsylvania. So the entire month of January. After a little Googling it looks like I should plant in late August. Spacing seemed to be important but maybe that’s just for gardeners trying to get bigger bulbs for human consumption.

18-Dec-19
Soil test, follow it. DO NOT OVERSEED, which is very easy to do. Broadcast more nitrogen when they are a couple inches tall, right before a rain. GL!

From: goyt
18-Dec-19
I have experience both good and bad. My partner who is an organic farmer used them with clover, barley and radishes as a cover crop one year. The crop fields have great soil and he used his equipment to plant. We had acres of huge turnips and the property smelled like turnips because there were so many half eaten turnips in Late December, January and early February. I would bet that the neighbors were wondering where all of the deer went. With so many acres of turnips it was tough to hunt but they attracted deer like crazy. Something in late February or early March they thawed and rotted which was a shame because tons of food went to waste. Prior to that year I had hand spread some turnup seeds in food plots that had been pH adjusted but did not have all of the nutrients of the crop field. They barely came up and produced pretty much no turnips. The next time that my partner planted the turnip mixture as a cover crop I got him plant a couple of passes in a remote food plot. Those turnips came up weakly and never got bulbs bigger than a golf ball where his would be baseball to softball size. Soil quality seems to be very important.

From: Catscratch
18-Dec-19
Follow the above recommendations, and if I were you I would overseed with winter wheat to help fill in the gaps with something else the deer love.

From: Smtn10PT
18-Dec-19
Get your soil tested and amended first, I would plant late July/early august...try to time it with an upcoming rain storm. I think if you wait until late August you aren't going to get the tonnage you'll need to have them last long into the winter.

From: Kydeer1
18-Dec-19
You know those rotten turnips are not all bad though. I'd actually look at it as a good sign that you had plenty of food for the deer and that decaying matter will make some awesome soil over time.

From: goyt
18-Dec-19
Kydeer1, increasing the organic content of the soil was one of the goals of the cover crop so you exactly right. I was just hoping that the deer would be able to eat them for another 4-6 weeks. They were terrific though.

From: t-roy
18-Dec-19
First, I’d get soil samples and amend accordingly. Second, like HFW stated, it is extremely important to not seed them too heavily. Smtn10pt and catscratch also had some good suggestions. For planting time, the adage is “July 29-rain or shine”. It’s very beneficial to get good seed to soil contact as well. A good seed bed helps to get consistent germination, although some guys have good success with the throw n mow technique. Do you have, or have access to equipment? Lots of good info in some threads on the Deerbuilder forum on here as well.

EDIT: Habit makes a good point below. It may take them a few years to really warm up to eating the turnips.

From: Habitat
18-Dec-19
Be prepared because I just think some deer don't like them,I planted with winter wheat and daikon radishes,Deer would eat the radishes and wheat so I started planting the turnips where I didn't want the deer to be in the field and would pick some for a friend that liked turnips way more than the deer

From: mattandersen
18-Dec-19
My plot in SW PA grew incredibly well but the deer don't seem interested in the least..they hardly ate the tops and I'm still hopeful now that we're getting colder weather they will hit the radishs and turnips for late season. Like I've read over and over it may take a while for them to "take a liking to them" I planted in mid July and I wish I would have planted in late July/early August. I have some huge radishs and turnips just sitting...I cut a few up in hopes they will find them but not so much yet.

18-Dec-19
My experience is that they are hit and miss on different properties. No reason I can think of other than varying food availability and/or preference.

I don't buy name brand seeds other than Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beets. Have had fantastic luck with these for five years in a row. I don't plant turnips on our farm any longer.

From: SJJ
18-Dec-19
Yep

dont over seed different results on different properties sometime radish seem to be more of a draw I didnt plant them this year and paid for it in low deer numbers...

From: goyt
18-Dec-19
Matt, They did not start eating ours until late December. They started eating the barley first and with time they would eat a little of the turnips. It did not take long after that before they focused on the turnips.

From: t-roy
18-Dec-19
Radishes won’t last into the winter in colder areas. If they get frozen a few times, they turn to mush. They are very attractive up to that point, though.

From: jingalls
18-Dec-19
Lots of great advice. Our farm in KS is sandy loam and drains incredibly well. We have planted purple top turnips for 15 years straight. We always drill rye and broadcast the turnips where we want them in the plots. The main thing is to NOT plant them too deep. That is critical! Deer pound the tops after the first hard frost. And then dig the bulbs up in January and February. Good luck.

From: JL
18-Dec-19
The thing with the turnips is the snow cover. We had that discussion a few weeks back here. The deer up here (MI) loved them but with the amount of snow cover we had so early this year may have hindered their usefulness, that will be something to consider. I did make the error of planting them too early in the season...so that is my fault and a teachable moment.

From: CAMP DAVID
18-Dec-19
Go to Deer Builder and see a thread I posted a few months ago on Purple Top.

The below link may work also.

http://www.bowsite.com/db/forums/thread.cfm?forum=4&threadid=486793&MESSAGES=28&FF=4

18-Dec-19
I have found what works best for me in SE Ohio is to plant around August 10th and.....As mentioned 1)soil test 2) lime & fertilize according to test 3) if you broadcast seed mix with clover seed to get a good even spread on a firm seed bed 4) add radishes for variety also 5) over seed with winter rye from middle of September to middle of October.

From: t-roy
18-Dec-19
A mixture of different stuff is a good idea, IMO. I usually mix turnips with radishes and kale or Winfred brassicas. However, I don’t like them mixed together. The turnips and the kale or Winfred brassicas are fine to be mixed together, as they are about the same size. The radish seeds are bigger. In order to get everything to feed out of the hopper, you have to open it up wider to allow the radishes to feed out. The other, smaller seeds will come out too fast, and you tend to get uneven seeding. It’s even worse if there is some sort of cereal grain in the mix. It’s more work, but you get better results seeding different sized seeds separately, IMO.

From: Bowmania
18-Dec-19
The first year we planted them in western WI the deer never touched them even after the first frost. I heard the deer didn't know what they were. Solution teach 'em. We put down a couple of pounds of corn and then sliced brassicas over the corn. They figured it out. The next spring there wasn't a inch on that field that didn't have a deer track on it.

Bowmania

From: Zbone
18-Dec-19
Grasshopper - "August 10th", isn't that a little late here in Ohio... I thought they were to be planted by the end of June?

Thanks for many info on dates...

From: Shuteye
18-Dec-19
I plant mine in late August and they are beautiful right now. Deer like them but they like the kale a lot better. My neighbor has a 500 acre farm and his cover crop is radishes, planted via crop duster. They will soon turn to mush.

From: BIG BEAR
18-Dec-19
Here’s my secret tip......... Buy a bunch of turnips and dump them on the ground......... :-)

From: Zbone
18-Dec-19
I hear a lot about cover crop, but what is meant or what actually is a "cover" crop?

From: Catscratch
18-Dec-19
You don't harvest cover crops. They are in between cash crops and provide cover for the ground, erosion control, mineral mining, and stuff like that. Radishes for example can drill holes in hard pan soils that have been compacted by decades of machinery driven on them.

From: Zbone
18-Dec-19
Thanks Catscratch...

From: Mule Power
19-Dec-19
Wouldn’t it be just as easy to seed properly instead of plucking them out to get proper spacing? How important is spacing if they’re for deer and not max yield for human consumption?

From: t-roy
19-Dec-19
Mule....if they’re planted too thick, they will stunt their growth. If anything, I’d go a little thin on the recommended seeding and over seed your turnips with a cereal grain about Sept 1st. That will fill in the thin spots in your plot. Oats are not very winter hardy and will die after a few hard frosts. Rye, wheat or triticale is much more winter hardy.

From: BullBuster
19-Dec-19
How winter hardy is barley?

From: t-roy
19-Dec-19
I’ve never grown barley, but my understanding is that is more winter hardy than oats, but less so than rye/wheat/triticale.

25-Dec-19
Zbone it seems to work best for me I think due to cooler night time temps and heavy dew when there is inconsistent rainfall. Growth varies year to year but bulbs usually get to baseball or even softball size. Leaf growth can get nearly knee high as well in a good year. I tried to plant in July twice and got bad results. First time a heavy summertime down pour/gully washer washed the seeds off the sloped food plots. Second time seeds germinated but hot dry weather killed all the seedlings.

25-Dec-19
Zbone it seems to work best for me I think due to cooler night time temps and heavy dew when there is inconsistent rainfall. Growth varies year to year but bulbs usually get to baseball or even softball size. Leaf growth can get nearly knee high as well in a good year. I tried to plant in July twice and got bad results. First time a heavy summertime down pour/gully washer washed the seeds off the sloped food plots. Second time seeds germinated but hot dry weather killed all the seedlings.

25-Dec-19
Zbone it seems to work best for me I think due to cooler night time temps and heavy dew when there is inconsistent rainfall. Growth varies year to year but bulbs usually get to baseball or even softball size. Leaf growth can get nearly knee high as well in a good year. I tried to plant in July twice and got bad results. First time a heavy summertime down pour/gully washer washed the seeds off the sloped food plots. Second time seeds germinated but hot dry weather killed all the seedlings.

From: Shuteye
25-Dec-19
Barley is a great cover crop and is hardy here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Deer love it in the Winter.

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