Pat, your brassicas seem late planted for such a Northern property. Was that a personal choice or a time/moisture issue?How is the surrounding habitat? I’ve planted Brassicas for years and they just don’t get used. I keep planting but no dice. I am in Ag country though so the deer just have better options I guess.
I planted alfagraze after last years report. Planted in the fall. Hoping for better results than pat. That stuff is expensive. Planted ag beans ( fenced off) and eagle forage beans. Both types were excellent. My ag beans held their beans until we opened the fields in December. The deer hammered them. I think that I paid 50-60 bucks a bag. I don’t know what the rw beans cost, but My ag beans made a lot of beans and they stayed on the plants.
Tom, my ground gets a lot more moisture than yours and I suspect that is the problem. They don’t like wet soil and this summer was pretty wet. Spring was bone dry and they did great until they got wet feet.
Pat, I want to thank you for all of the work you do testing and reporting on food plots- as a fellow ny hunter, the information you provide is an invaluable part of my food plot strategy each year!
Would love to see you test out some of the newer high diversity blends using regenerative techniques like roller-crimping. I know you’re always looking for possible tweaks to your soybean plots- would be great to see you try the buffalo method of planting the beans into crimped rye or one of the new “crimp ahead” seed blends that are popping up more and more.
Using a lot of the varieties that worked well for you in the past, I made the switch to no-till organic plotting last year and was amazed by how well some plants did that I had struggled with in the past. I could never get brassicas to grow decent bulbs using conventional ag practices and even when I did the deer didn’t eat them- but last year using the hancocks deer greens overseeded into standing beans, peas, and oats, I had phenomenal success with brassicas and they browsed heavily from October-January.
Considering how hard your plots get hit now, I can only imagine what kind of results you would see at the farm if you went to high diversity no-till and how much insight we could gain into these methods if you tested reported the findings.
PutcountyBowhunter.........sounds like you need to do a “how to” of your own, on some of your no-till plotting practices. They sound very interesting. I’m betting that there are several guys on here that would find them informative, myself included. I’m also interested in what you’re using as far as your roller-crimping implement.
Thanks t-Roy but I am still very much a novice when it comes to food plotting... just happened to get into it at the time regenerative ag/cover cropping started picking up steam and was lucky to be exposed to it.
I planted less than 3 acres last year and feel I was right at the outer limit of getting by without a legit roller crimper. I used a combination of foot crimping board (looks like the thing used to make crop circles), the smooth side of a chain harrow, quad tires, and a lawn roller. Best results came from smooth side of a weighted chain harrow but I also didn’t really care if some of the spring planting stood back up.
Knowing that I was working with rocky silty soil with very low organic matter, my plan was to try and get as much biomass as possible in the spring and summer ahead of the fall planting that I relied on thru hunting season.
I attached a picture of the fall grains and greens that were broadcast into what was left of the summer beans. After just one round of spring and summer plantings that were terminated and left in place, the soil was already much darker and richer than it was the prior fall when my brassicas didn’t produce at all.
It was normal to see 8-10 deer in this plot for 6-7 hours out of the day.
In addition to heavy use from the deer and more than one visit by black bears caught on camera, a flock of turkeys moved on to the property for the first time in 20 years according to the landowner.
Didn’t end up harvesting a buck off of this lease last year but had several nice bucks on the property.
Really looking forward to seeing how things progress this year!
I’m on the same tract as Putcounty. I do have a new roller crimper. I plan to crimp 1/2 my field of winter rye when it gets about 4 ft high then drill soybeans into it. The other half I will broadcast at the same time then mow over with a sickle bar mower. No chemicals or fertilizer. It will be interesting to see how they do.
Here's a roller crimper, looks like a cultipacker. What am I missing? It's big in organic farming but the videos I watched don't really address how this will control weeds and grasses - especially in the absence of herbicides. I'm really confused - but intrigued as well. Thank you for sharing your technique. That's what makes this feature so interesting as there's lots of different ways to plant crops. I am definitely the more traditional spray, till, plant, spray guy. They work for me. But I also have some failures so am interested to hear the benefits of this technique!
Agree with Pat's comments. Bull Buster, please start a thread when you do this and post the results. Everything I read encourages less use of chemicals so I would like to learn. The above may be easier to do? I tend to believe tonnage is still important though, and if the method describes yields less tonnage so more land worked is necessary to have the same tonnage, the gain may not be as obvious to me. Thanks!
Crimpers work if you plant crops like winter rye that are allopathic (release chemicals to inhibit competing plants... ie - weeds). Another way is to plant something that will germinate before the weeds and canopy to shade them out... out-compete the weeds. Sorghum and millets are good for this. Rye will terminate with a crimping if you do it at the right stage of growth. So; grow your rye to inhibit weeds, broadcast summer seed, crimp to kill the rye and at the same time lay down thatch over your seed.
Besides suppressing weeds with allopathic plants or canopy you are also not turning the soil to bring up weeds in the seed bank.
Informative post and feature guys, some great reading here. Just getting my "feet wet" in food plots and am fortunate to have married a great gal with a dad that has a couple hobby-type farms in great deer country in Pennsylvania. After reading the information posted, I am hoping to put in a couple acre food plots of Real World beans (via spray, till, plant, spray) but am not sure of the best place to source them. Any suggestions?
I think I am all set on equipment as my father in law has all of the equipment that I might need in the way of a bunch of tractors tractors between 25 and 75 horsepower, and numerous grain drills, sprayers, plows, cultipackers, etc. Plus, he is always willing to work together on farm projects so I don't think getting him to help will be an issue.
Thanks again for the great information. I hope to add some photos this summer/fall.
This is what the beans look like today. Rye grain was broadcasted into the beans as they started to yellow. The deer have eaten it down to just an inch or so. Broadcasted ladino clover into this last week. Will mow the beans down after green-up.
Holy cow, Frank! I’d kill to still have that many beans left in my plots in March! All my bean plots are generally completely wiped out by mid-January.
Here’s an 8’ crimper. It’s only $4,800! You can get a 6 footer for about a grand less. I saw a “MacGyvered” homemade 4 footer atv one, that a guy built out of a salvaged oxygen tank, on YouTube as well. Might be a fun project to try building out in the shop for next winter.
Pat are you planting your fields with the Woods Precision Seeder?
If you want to see the Goliath Crimper being used in conjunction with a Genesis No Till Drill Growing Deer TV on You Tube with Grant Woods uses it in what they call the "Buffalo system". Some of their ground in Missouri is very rocky but with a cover crop I don't think it is an issue. I would guess that if you don't have a drill you could Throw and Crimp if you have a cover crop.
JM, I like neat orderly rows and the ability to drive over them to spray without crushing the corn or beans. And there is no depth control with the precision seeder. Bean seeds will be laying all over the ground. No good.
This plot had maybe 20 diff plant varieties and Deer were in it at least 12 hours a day
This plot had maybe 20 diff plant varieties and Deer were in it at least 12 hours a day
I&J manufacturing out of PA makes roller crimpers in 6, 8, and 10’ length. Think they start around $3k and go up a couple hundred bucks as size increases. They make them for the Rodale institute who are innovators in the world of no-till cover cropping.
What I would really like to see you guys test on the deer builder property is the attractiveness over time of some the newer high diversity mixes compared to monocrops- something like drop tine reload mixes or eagle seeds smorgasbord.
After my results last year, I’m a believer that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to the attraction of high diversity plots but would like to see if others experience the same thing and no one does it better than you guys.
I've been doing multispecies plots for a decade or so. Attraction is high and I see deer in my plot the entire year. I use my own mixes but I'm sure the droptine or smorgasboard would work also. No inputs and few herbicides. I didn't measure bushels per acre but last year's beans average 35 pods per plant with 4 beans per pod. I don't own a drill or a disk. Insect problems are rare.
I highly recommend the practices and ideas on this thread. They work wonderfully on our place, is good at building soil, and is really a cheap way of doing things. I love not having to buy fertilizer anymore!
You guys that are planting multi-species plots, do you plant a mixture, or each type of seed separately? I understand that there are differing timeframes for seeding: ie soybeans, then rye in the fall, and brassicas in late July-Aug, then rye in September. My question is geared more towards different sized seeds in a mixture. I hate planting mixtures through a hand seeder due to the aspect of having to open the seeder gate far enough that even the largest seeds can feed out, and the smaller ones feed out too quickly. Are you guys mixing your seed in some sort of medium or using a different seeder or something different?
^^^ That's one of the reasons I do my own mixes (besides cheaper and better control of the mix). I separate seeds based on size and spread them separately. Sometimes a small seed that has a low rate (like brassica's) gets mixed with sand. Regardless... seed size and seed shape (cereal grains) generally need different settings.
I’ve done mixes before in my plot reviews. They have their place. It’s hard for me to review a blend and it’s also tough to prep the soil for them. Each variety has different fertilizer needs and it’s hard to get consistent coverage- especially when you have wide disparity in seed sizes as was mentioned above. So if for instance I’m looking at planting my favorite blend which is brassicas (tiny seeds) and peas (big seeds) I’ll buy them and run them through my precision seeder out of different bins. That works really well. But generally I don’t buy those bags with 10 different crops. I personally think it’s a waste of money.
I've read the same about GMO vs non-GMO plants, that deer prefer non-GMO's. I have no clue if it's true but I've talked with enough plotters who swear the same that I'm interested. The beans I planted last year were Liberty but I never sprayed them. I try to not spray anything that the deer are going to consume, but I don't have gly completely out of my methods yet.
I’m disappointed that your Birdsfoot trefoil was such a flop. I have any incredibly wet and gooey area that I can’t even get equipment into until mid summer. I was planning to plant BT and Alsike clover in it. Unfortunately it will be hard to control native grasses. Pat, did you plant it in a particularly wet area?
It was a particularly wet area. I don't think the issue was excessive moisture, however, even when the plot was weed-free and thriving, I had very poor utilization on the BT. I won't plant it again. I'm getting to the point now where I've tried all sorts of legumes including Birdsfoot, alfalfa, and clover. Alfalfa draws better but it's too frustrating to grow if you are looking for 3+ years of persistence. I got 5 years out of my Ladino clover plot, and an amazing 7 years out of my Durana clover plot. Both with minimal spraying and simply mowing it 2-3 times a year.
Yes, it was clovers since year 1-6 and I burned them down 3 years ago, tilled, and planted the BT 3 years ago. I had decent clover there but a lot of weeds and grass too because I didn't maintain it as well as my other plots. Going back to clover this year.
I have broadcast different seeds by hand. Prepared ground for large seed, spread, cultipacked, then small seed and cultipacked, eg. grains then clovers. Acquired a 3 point broadcast spreader as my knees are shot. I have mixed various size seeds in a tub prior to loading the spreader. Was reluctant to use this method because of various seed sizes, so I conducted a small sample road test. By spreading at slow speed did not allow small seed to be spread first. Clovers and radish were spread uniformly with cereal grains. I do not think that small seed migrates through the mix at slow speeds. I plan to broadcast, then mow after to preserve moisture, prevent weeds and add organic matter.
Seeding with lime applications would tend to be accurate, in my opinion.
Pat you mentioned you discontinued the hot fence because it wasn't necessary. Some others also mentioned using a hot fence. To me it seems like a hot fence would be ineffective for deer - they can just jump over it. I'm thinking of using a hot fence just to keep the bears out of my small plot.
Pat, did you notice a big difference in the types of beans when it came to the length of time they stayed green. I would assume the buck and eagle brands stayed green longer. I'm in central Wisconsin and looking for pod growth but something that stays green a little longer than our ag beans. I'm also intrigued by planting the standing bean field with something later in the year. I haven't seen that done up here too much. Anybody have luck planting oats and brassicas or should a guy just stick to rye grass?
My hot fence worked great I did have a bear pull a corner post out and broke thru but only once. I repaired it in less than an hour . I used electric tape on the outside and wrapping tape from uline on the inside Good luck Lewis
BigEight, the ag beans definitely had the shortest green life by at least 3 weeks. The eagle mgrs mix held out the longest but they were not preferred. The buckbeans were the best of the four with green utilization and the ag beans were best on bean crop.
Watching the uninformed discussion on BFT / BFT mixed plots and think that I'll add this to counter the bashing it's taking. Everyone's results will vary - WHY they very is the most important variable. BFT is a excellent legume with close to alfalfa like protein, carbs etc that will grow in crap soils - where alfalfa can't/won't.
This is a 1/4 acre ridge top plot on a 65 year old strip mine spoil pile. pH going in 4.9. Made on application of 1000#'s pellitized lime in Sep 2019 and 1000#'s spreadable pulverized ag lime in Feb 2020 (month of this picture) aka 2 tons per acre split apply.
This pic on Nov 10th ( I shot my buck on 2 Nov) shows the BFT had been selectively browsed around the clovers and chicory - they loved it and that applied to all the other legume plots I planted with BFT as a majority species.
I plant multi species plots rather than mono cultures. BFT in my experience is sharecroppers alfalfa.