Winter Food Plots for Deer – forage soybeans and brassicas

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  • Winter Feed Plots
This youtube video shows the winter use of my deer forage system. The system is used where dairy and beef farms have alfalfa and clover forage for cattle and winter cover crop in corn fields will provide spring greenup feed for deer while we start our annual food plots. A planting of glyphosate-tolerant forage soybeans (forage beans only) are started as soon as soil temperatures are suitable in spring, then an over-seeding of brassicas, including turnips, rape, tillage radishes and my favorite forage plant T-raptor at the end of July. T-raptor can be planted and is used by deer in the spring, so it can be planted earlier and the other brassicas later. Try to work with the weather, if heavy thunderstorms or a week of rainy weather is forecast, spread your brassicas then – anytime mid to late summer.

Since forage soybeans are highly preferred and grow slowly, a large field must be planted or an electric exclusion fence installed to keep deer off of it until it can tolerate browse pressure. 3 acres is minimum. In this video, I planted 2.5 acres in a region where beans are not grown. So, the deer had to discover they liked them. And, they are absolutely decimated. The corn was planted too late in the year due to spring rain preventing equipment access to the site, so it is no help. This would have worked out well if the corn had succeeded as it would pick up where the beans and brassicas left off.

If it works the way it is supposed to, you will have the most popular feed grounds in the neighborhood. But if Mr. Murphy shows up and you have a failure, spread forage oats and brassicaas. I once planted a bean plot of two acres and the beans never made it over 4 inches in height. I may try this again and use a bigger area and some e-fence around the tree stand I have in a big pine tree in the middle of the field.

If one has the time and the money, corn can be spread with a cyclone spreader once a week and deer can pick it up that way. Always feed close to bedding cover and out of the wind so that there is a positive gain in energy. Don’t bait deer out into the wind in subzero weather – they are better off lying still and keeping their core temperature up.

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About the Author:

Wildlife habitat manager and consulting forester from Central PA. Studied environmental Agriculture specializing in wildlife management and Forestry. B.S. Agriculture, Masters degree in Forestry. 30 years experience in land investment, forestry and wildlife habitat improvement. Currently working as a Farm Bill Forester for Pheasants Forever on Game Commission and Golden Winged Warbler Initiative.