Food plot forages

Discussion in 'Whitetail Management' started by OrionWhitetails, Aug 24, 2000.

  1. OrionWhitetails

    OrionWhitetails New Member

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    I would greatly appreciate any input anyone may have regarding your experiences with planting food plots for deer. I'm a novice when it comes to farming (although my family has farmed in north-central Iowa for 3 generations!) and up until this year, we have had poor success with our food plots in southern Iowa.

    Our goals behind planting food plots are (1) to provide deer with nutritious forage during as many months out of the year as possible, and (2) to make hunting for mature bucks more successful. We targeted forage types that would still be attracting deer in January, when we will be hunting during the late muzzleloader season.

    1998 - We planted soybeans on one-half of our food plots. The soybeans were doing great until the farmer renting the adjacent crop land sprayed our beans with Round-Up! Fortunately, one plot of soybeans escaped the sprayer. Deer use on this plot occurred during the summer, but the plot received very little deer use after the plants matured.

    The other plots, with the exception of one plot of corn, were planted in sorghum. The sorghum grew great, but for some reason received very little deer use. Then, before getting a chance to hunt over these plots, the neighbors cattle broke through the boundary fence and demolished the plots!

    The corn plot did great (one of my partners actually pushed his lawn mower between the rows to mow the competing grass and weeds!), but the acreage planted (approx. 1 ac) was too small and the deer (and turkeys and coons and....) ate the vast majority of the ears of corn before shotgun season opened.

    1999 - We experimented with Whitetail Institute's "No Plow" and BioLogic's "Fall Attractant" with little success. A communication problem with the farmer resulted in the "No Plow" seed not even getting planted (we found the seed one year later in the barn loft still in the bag!). The "Fall Attractant" was planted late and then was hit by an early frost, which stopped plant growth at 2-8 inches. We never saw any evidence of deer use in this food plot.

    This year we mixed corn with the sorghum plots (2 rows corn, 2 rows sorghum, etc.), but evidently the corn seed was of poor quality because very few plants put out ears. The sorghum again grew very well, but once again we had very little deer use in these plots. In addition, the seed coat was soft and therefore received less pheasant use as well.

    2000 - This year we experimented with Whitetail Institute's "Alfa-Rack" and BioLogic's "New Zealand Premium Perennial." So far, the "Alfa-Rack" has come up very well (planted during spring) and has already been mowed once. The BioLogic forage came up but has not been doing as well as the "Alfa-Rack."

    We planted several new plots in corn, which are doing great.

    On our remaining plots, we mixed corn with millet (again 2 rows of corn, 2 rows of millet, etc.). The millet was chosen instead of the sorghum because of poor deer use in the past and because we hoped to get a plant variety that would put out hard-coated seeds for the pheasants. Unfortunately, the seed corn used for these plots was of very poor quality (we received the seed free from the National Wild Turkey Foundation) and it hardly even germinated. We chose to replant with commercial seed corn, but the corn was planted late as a result and is not doing as well as the other corn plots.

    We will not know until this fall and winter what the final outcome of the 2000-year plots are.

    Any success and/or failures that any of you have had with your food plots would be greatly appreciated.

    OrionWhitetails (Mickey Hellickson)
     
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  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Mickey,

    Thanks for visiting the site!

    John is kinda the food plot guy for our group and has had some interesting experiences this year. We are also very well connected to the two gentleman that advertise on our site. George has a friend John Judson ( ? ) we met at the Deer Classic that is really knowledgable. I will let those guys know your looking for help and they will be posting soon.

    Here is one of Johns plots...

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Admin

    Admin Administrator

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    Other than living in the middle of a soybean field ( usually corn ) I am no expert but have some comments.

    Iowa is basically one big food plot and generally the only time nutrition is a topic is mid and late winter. I do know that soybeans are the food of choice early and then ( right now as we speak ) alfalfa and acorns. I feel corn comes in when the weather turns cold and carbs are needed to keep warm.

    I have always understood that whitetail deer will always want the most palatable forage they can find and that is where a food plot can help. John has told me his spring plot was getting used quite heavily so it wasn't like the animals were just munching on soybeans. I really think the plot will get used this fall when everything else is brown and again the most palatable forage is the choice. In our area that extra boost going into the winter months could make all the difference in the world to reduce stress with the animals.

    What you plant will depend on your soil and I am sure your climate, proper pH will be important. I am sure the food plot guys will be showing up soon as well as other comments from more knowlegable readers.

    Good luck!
     
  5. PLK

    PLK Guest

    I started out thinking I could invent a better mousetrap, planting clovers, turnips, you name it - I tried it! The farmer next door just laughed and said " Hell - they'll walk righ thru that stuff to get to my soybeans" and he was right! Since then I stick to planting corn and soybeans - just like everyone else. I no-till plant and buy quality seed, have the field sprayed with fertlizer and herbicide - corn cost about $120 per acre, soybeans maybe $60 (total costs per acre). The key is - that its still standing in November, when everyone else has harvested and fall plowed. Then they are like flies on you know what coming to my fields.
    I prefer birdsfoot trefoil for a high protein legume - it's cheaper, last for years and can be frost seeded. However its hard to beat alfalfa as TLH mentioned.
    I also have planted hybrid oaks that should start yielding sweet acorns in 7-9 years, instead of 25-30.
    Apple and pear trees also will sweeten the pot!
     
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I was curious....one place I hunt has a ton of CRP with no real crops handy...is there anything you could just overseed with in the early spring....as long as it wouldn't affect the farmer's CRP contract. Thanks for any input!
     
  7. Maggs

    Maggs New Member

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    Around here Pheasant's Forever puts alot of corn food plots in the CRP. Seems the deer benefit as much as the pheasants.
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    The plot we put in this year was looking awesome. We mowed it and it died!! The only thing I can think of is the mower blades were dull and instead of mowing it actually tore and pulled the plants. Not Good!! We then tilled everything under and replanted 4 acres into winter blend from Wildlife Buffet. The winter blend consists of winter rye, buckwheat, and three different brassicas. Brassicas are really winter hardy even with snow on top the deer will dig through the snow to get to it. As for are second planting we need rain or it is done for. Good Luck!!
     
  9. PLK

    PLK Guest

    swanny - I believe you can put up to 10% of any CRP acreage into foodplots. Most CRP in southern Iowa is brome - which will make it impossible to overseed anything - and make it grow. If you can get ahold of a tractor and tillage equipment - oats in spring and rye or winter wheat are very cheap options if you can't swing the corn/bean thing.
    Rye is only $5 to $7 per bushel which will plant several acres, no need for fertilizer or herbicide - but you will need to work the ground first. Best bet is to mow it, plow and disc - you might hire a local farmer to do it for $20/30 per acre. Just broadcast the seed and lightly cover it with a cultipacker,harrow or even an ATV dragging a board behind.
    Corn/beans are better but at a $100 plus per acre to get a decent food plot - you'll need at least 5-8 acres to keep the deer from destroying it early on - it gets kinda pricey.
     
  10. Admin

    Admin Administrator

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    I agree on all of this talk on corn and beans especially if the corn is left in until spring. One of the best places I ever hunted in Iowa was a farm that never got to the corn until April...that was in the early '90's. Since then the ground has changed farmers and is picked in October. Now it's like most places just average and not full of 180 inch bucks anymore [​IMG]

    TLH
     
  11. PLK

    PLK Guest

    Friend of mine, once found 16 sheds in and around a 20 acre cornfield left unharvested. Fella next door said at least 80 deer wintered there feeding on the corn.
    I plant 5-7 acres, and I guess it would go 100 to 120 bushel if harvested - but the deer have it picked clean by early Jan.!
    I prefer corn, because it provides cover - have had problems with poachers shooting deer in my soybeans, although beans are certainly cheaper.
    The key is - do it right - plant it as if you we're going to pay the bills with the crop. Otherwise, pick a cheaper crop such as the cereal grains, or the brassica's, and you'll still get some bang for your buck.
     
  12. feedbag

    feedbag Guest

    Plant 2%-3% of total acerage in food plot. I am shocked that the Alfa-Rack had to be mowed. Usually the deer keep it mowed. What type of soil do you have? Sometime the type of fertilizer you use will make a difference. We now have an organic fertilizer and a liquid lime that will work well in the agricultural application as well as the food-plot situation. Do you have any quality vitamin/mineral licks out? http://www.deerclover.com or http://www.alfarack.com
     
  13. NWBuck

    NWBuck PMA Member

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    We maintain about 4 acres of foodplot on our 160 acre farm. Our philosophy is alfalfa early, and corn/soybeans for when the weather turns cold and snow cover is deep. I also believe the commercial clover blends are basically a waste of money in our area. The soils are good and a homemade blend can be just as effective and much more affordable.

    Our herd absolutely LOVES the soybeans in nasty weather. They will eat every bean and then eat the stalks also. The corn gets heavy usage as well, but deer usually prefer the beans as long as they last. If the weather is cold and nasty enough, it is not uncommon for us to see 40-80 deer a day in these small foodplots during the late muzzeloader season. They will continue to feed on stalks and browse right through February and March. The only reasons we even plant corn in the plot is for rotational purposes and because it produces more bushels of feed/acre. Here's another little hint: our local seed dealer provides us with Roundup Ready corn and soybeans FREE OF CHARGE each year as long as he knows it is going into a foodplot. This is great PR for him and really helps us plant quality seed without a huge expense. Check out your local dealers, they may be very willing to do something similar.

    We also use Trace Mineral (a generic version of the commercial mineral supplements) during the antler growing months. Don't know whether this actually helps or not, but they sure do get alot of usage through June and July.

    All of these things, combined with a trophy management harvest plan, have really improved the local herd and we notice deer that look much healthier coming out of the winter months. Those of you having trouble with certain foodplots not growing well may want to take a soil sample. A little lime often does alot to improve the productivity of the land. Good hunting this fall!
     
  14. OneCam

    OneCam Administrator

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    ttt

    Any recent updates on your plots?
     
  15. Ogz

    Ogz Life Member

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    I'm trying to find the time to get some more info. I'll let you know if we get something done.
     
  16. Big Timber

    Big Timber Moderator

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    What are you guys planting if your seeing deer in a field during muzzy season? I'm just curious because when I have left standing crops, they are depleted long before late muzzy season starts. I have left two acres of corn/beans standing before and the crop is gone before late season.

    BT
     

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