Food Plots

1. Buck Wheat

  • Great as a cover crop
  • Rapid growing broadleaf small grain
  • Great for mineralizing phosphorous (P) and sulfur (S) from the soil
  • Small tap root system

This warm-season annual is a great food plot seed option for most hunters. It isn’t a legume or grain species. It’s a forb and it can grow as tall as 4 to 5 feet in height. Crude protein levels are high, often surpassing 20 percent. Deer, turkey, waterfowl, upland birds and a host of other game animals benefit from it.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Grain
Days to germination: 7 – 10
Soil pH: 5.0 – 6.5
Height at maturity: 2’ – 3’
Soil adaption: Wide range of soils
Length of Stand: Annual
Planting depth: 1” – 1 1/2”
Reproduces by: Seed
Seeding Rate: 35 – 50 Lbs. to an Acre
Pounds per Bushel: 60

2. Forage Soybeans

  • Ranges 17 – 25% in crude protein
  • Can grow 4 – 6’ tall, deliver high yields
  • Can be mixed with other summer annual crops
  • Plant type: Annual Legume

Soybeans (Glycine max) are a warm-season annual legume and perhaps the most preferred summer forage for white-tailed deer. They are extremely nutritious, containing upwards of 25 to 30 percent crude protein in fields with good soil fertility, well above the amounts required by deer for optimal body and antler development.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Legume
Days to germination: 5 – 7
Planting dates: May – June
Main usage: Grazing, silage
Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Height at maturity: 3’ – 6’
Soil adaption: Well drained, moderate
Length of Stand: Annual
good fertility
Reproduces by: Seed
Planting depth: 3/4” – 1 1/2”
Pounds per Bushel: 60
Seeding Rate: 140,000 – 160,000 to an Acre

3. Sorghum Sudan

  • Great for wildlife screening and cover
  • Rapid growth, 45 – 55 days to first harvest

A mature plant will be 26 to 30 in. tall, with seed becoming marginally palatable at maturity. As it stands in the weather, it loses tannic acid and becomes more and more palatable through the fall. This sorghum makes excellent seed for all game birds, including quail, turkey, pheasants, doves and ducks. Deer will also feed heavily on the grain in fall and winter. The Sorghum has a life cycle of 90-120 days.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Grass
Days to germination: 7
Planting dates: May-July
Main usage: Green chop, hay, silage
Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Height at maturity: 5’ – 7’
Soil adaption: Wide, 60° or warmer soil temp.
Length of Stand: Annual
Planting depth: 3/4’’ – 1 1/4’’
Reproduces by: Sterile
Seeding Rate: 20 – 50 Lbs. to an Acre
Pounds per Bushel: 56

4. Frost Master Peas

  • Long vined winter forage pea
  • Higher yielding than Austrian winter peas
  • White flowered, absence of tannins (bitter tasting compound)
  • Sweet in taste, more palatable than Austrian winter peas
  • Cold tolerant

These peas are a small seeded forage pea, yet will grow into a long vine with large leaves producing good tonnage of very palatable forage. Frost Master Winter Peas have good winter-hardiness and are capable of out producing Austrian Winter Peas. Frost Master Winter Peas are white flowered, which indicates the absence of tannin. Tannin is a compound that creates a bitter taste in plants. Due to the lack in tannin, Frost Master peas are very sweet, unlike the majority of winter peas and spring peas.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Legume
Days to germination: 7 – 10
Planting dates: Aug. – Sept.
Main Usage: Wildlife, cover crop
Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Height at maturity: 2’ – 4’
Soil adaption: Wide range of soils
Length of Stand: Annual
Planting Depth: 1/2’’ – 1’’
Reproduces by: Seed
Seeding Rate: 30-50 Lbs. to an Acre
Pounds per Bushel: 60

5. Haywire Oat

  • High yielding, high quality forage oat
  • About 58 days to boot stage
  • Excellent standability

A new high yielding forage oat with superior feed quality and good forage yields. Excellent choice to nurse crop new forage seedings.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Grain
Days to germination: 10
Planting dates: Mar – Apr forage or grain
Main usage: Cereal grain, nurse crop, cover
production; Aug – Oct cover crop or forage
crop, forage crop
Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.0
Height at maturity: 3’- 5’
Soil adaption: Wide range of soils
Length of Stand: Annual
Planting Depth: 1/2″
Reproduces by: Seed
Seed Rate: 64 – 96 LBS. to an Acre
Pounds per Bushel: 32

6. Egyptian Wheat

  • High protein seed production
  • Tall growing member of the sorghum family
  • Well suited for deer and game birds, as well as cover and screening

Egyptian wheat is member of the sorghum family and is known for its extreme height of 8-12 feet. Egyptian wheat provides some food value at the tassel, but is primarily used as a thick cover for wildlife. It can be used as a food plot screen and deer blind if planted more heavily.

Specifications:

Planting Date: April – June (after last chance of frost)
Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Planting Depth: 1/2’’
Seeding Rates: 30 – 50 Lbs. to an Acre
Height at Maturity: 10 Feet
Length of Stand: Annual

7. Sunflower

  • A tall growing plant that can reach up to six feet tall
  • Sunflowers are a favorite of dove, quail, pheasant, turkeys, and song birds.

Most people think of sunflowers as a great dove field plot. And it is. But it’s also good for deer. In climates where sunflowers will grow, plant them. They’re very high in protein and offer deer a unique food source that your neighbors likely won’t have. That’s the name of the game. Give deer foods to eat they can’t get elsewhere.

Specifications:

Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Planting Depth: 1/2’’
Seeding Rate: 10 – 15 Lbs. to an Acre
Height at maturity: 4 – 6 Feet
Length of Stand: Annual
Primary Usage: Wildlife, cover crop, pollinator friendly

8. Hog Radish

  • Daikon cover crop radish that produces significant root mass
  • Nitrogen mining, nutrient scavenging, and nutrient repositioning
  • Improves soil biology
  • Can suppress undesired weeds

Radishes are considered a cool-season biennial forage that is fast-growing and produces a long, white taproot. The taproot can reach lengths greater than 30 inches with some varieties, which helps break through deeply compacted soils. The leaves are thick, fleshy and deeply lobed and can reach about 18 inches tall, depending on soil fertility and planting density.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Brassica
Soil adaption: Wide range of soils
Planting dates: Early Aug. – Sept.
Days to germination: 4 – 6
Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0
Main Usage: Cover crop, wildlife, soil builder
Planting Depth: 1/4’’ – 1/3’’
Height at maturity: 2’ – 3’
Seeding Rate: 6 – 8 Lbs. to an Acre
Length of Stand: Annual
1 – 4 Lbs. to an Acre Mix
Reproduces by: Seed

9. Purple Turnip

  • High quality, high bulb yielding turnip
  • Can utilize in summer or fall
  • Used for livestock or wildlife
  • Mixes with cereal grains well, especially oats

Purple Top Turnips are one of the most widely planted, highly nutritious food plot species grown. Turnips are part of a large family more commonly referred to as Brassicas. This plant family is known for its rapid cool season growth and high yields. The brassica family includes crops such as radish, kale, rutabaga, rapeseed, and broccoli. Like others in this vast family, turnips are a cool season annual and grow best during the cooler periods of the year.  

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Brassica
Soil adaption: Wide
Planting dates: March – April, August
Days to germination: 5 – 7
Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.0
Main Usage: Grazing, forage
Planting Depth: 1/8’’ – 1/4’’
Height at maturity: 2’ – 3’
Seeding Rate: 3 – 10 Lbs. to an Acre
Length of Stand: Annual
1 – 2 Lbs. to an Acre Mix
Reproduces by: Seed

10. Rapeseed

  • Cool season brassica that works well alone or seeded with oats
  • Large leaves, high quality forage
  • Frost increases sugar concentration in leaves
  • Great cover crop

Rapeseed has a very succulent top growth that is high in nutrients. It may be used for livestock in pastures or in wildlife food plot seed mixtures. Plant late in the summer for a very green fall forage; spring or fall planting is also an option.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Brassica
Soil adaption: Wide
Planting dates: August
Days to germination: 5 – 7
Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.0
Main Usage: Wildlife, forage, cover crop
Planting Depth: 1/8’’ – 1/4’’
Height at maturity: 3’ – 4’
Seeding Rate: 6 – 8 Lbs. to an Acre
Length of Stand: Annual
1 – 2 Lbs. to an Acre Mix
Reproduces by: Seed

11. Ladino Clover

  • Great for pasture or wildlife plots
  • Remains in a vegetative state during whitetail deer antler growth
  • High crude protein content with large, succulent leaves
  • Early vigor and hardiness
  • Bred under grazing pressure

Ladino clover is highly attractive to deer and provides an excellent protein source for whitetails. Like most clovers, it has clusters of three leaflets. Plants can reach a height of 10 inches or more and produce a white bloom in the spring or early summer.

Specifications:

Plant type: Perennial Legume
Days to germination: 7 – 10
Planting dates: Feb-April or Aug-Sept
Main usage: Hay, conservation, pasture,wildlife
Soil pH: 5.8-6.5
Height at maturity: 15’’- 36’’
Planting Depth: 1/8’’ – 1/4’’
Length of Stand: 2-5 years
Seed Rate: 4-6 Lbs. to an Acre
Reproduces by: Seed & Stolons
0.5-2 Lbs. to an Acre Mix
Pounds per Bushel: 60

12. White Clover

  • Persistent, grazing tolerant for season-long production
  • High stolon density
  • Large leaves
  • Has higher levels on nonstructural carbohydrates than other white clovers

White Clover Makes Outstanding Food Plots for Deer. White clover is a good source of protein for deer and turkey, and should be considered when developing food plots for deer along with cost of planting and maintenance, duration of plant life and usefulness to wildlife species in the area.

Specifications:

Plant type: Perennial Legume
Days to germination: 7 – 10
Planting dates: Feb-April or Aug-Sept
Main usage: Soil improvement, pasture,wildlife
Soil pH: 5.5-7.0
Height at maturity: 3’’ – 24’’
Planting Depth: 1/8’’-1/4’’
Length of Stand: 2-10 years
Seeding Rate: 3-5 Lbs. to an Acre
Reproduces by: Seed & Stolons
0.52 Lbs. to an Acre Mix
Pounds per Bushel: 60

13. Cereal Rye

  • High yielding fall seeded forage
  • Very winter hardy
  • Early to mature in the spring
  • Graze in vegetative stage for high quality pasture

Rye is very cold hardy and can be grown anywhere in the United States. In fact, it is the most tolerant of harsh winter conditions of any of the cereal grains mentioned here. Surprisingly, it is also drought tolerant and performs well in sandy coastal soils. Forage production can exceed 7,000 lbs./acre dry weight, which is the greatest among the cool-season cereal grains.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual
Days to germination: 7 – 10
Planting dates: Sept. – Nov.
Main Usage: Grazing, Silage, Cover Crop
Soil pH: 5.0 – 7.0
Height at maturity: 5’ -7’
Soil adaption: Wide range of soils
Length of Stand: Annual
Planting Depth: 1’’ – 1 1/2’’
Reproduces by: Seed
Seeding Rate: 50-100 Lbs. to an Acre
Pounds per Bushel: 56

14. Berseem Clover

  • Great companion with alfalfa to improve yield
  • Will tolerate temperatures down to 5F
  • Works well after wheat in a cover crop

Frosty berseem clover is considered a cool-season annual legume. It has oblong-shaped leaflets that are fairly large relative to other clovers. The flowers bloom in early summer and are whitish or ivory colored. Frosty produces an abundance of nutritious forage. It can reach 2- to 3-feet tall in the spring but rarely does so because of heavy grazing pressure by deer.

Specifications:

Plant type: Annual Legume
Planting dates: April – August
Soil PH: 6.0 -m 7.5
Soil Adaption: Moderate to well drained
Planting Depth: 1/8” – ¼”
Approximate seeds/lb: 130,000 coated
Seeding rates: 8 – 15 lbs per acre
3 – 6 lbs per acre mixed
Days to germinate: 7
Main usage: cover crop, nurse crop, pasture, hay, wildlife
Height at maturity: 18” – 30”
Length of stand: 6 month less
Reproduces by: seed
Pounds per bushel: 60

15. Endure Chickory

  • Low bolting
  • Summer long production
  • Fast establishing
  • Strong regrowth
  • High forage yield
  • Improved persistence in wet soil
  • Forage quality

Chicory is a highly preferred, grazing tolerant plant that has good drought resistance. Chicory is most beneficial in food plots when planted with red clover, ladino clover, and a ryegrass or oats. Bird’s trefoil is also a good addition to a chicory planting.

Specifications:

Plant type: Perennial Herb
Planting dates: April – May, August
Soil PH: 5.5 – 7.0
Soil Adaption: Dry, well-drained
Planting Depth: 1/8” – ¼”
Approximate seeds/lb: 425,000
Seeding rate: 6 – 8 lbs. per acre
1 – 4 lbs per acre mixed
Days to germination: 7 -21
Main usage: grazing, wildlife
Height to maturity: 1’ – 3’
Length of stand: 1 – 7 years
Reproduces by: Seed

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