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The Perfect Seeds For Food Plots
Enter “food plot seed” into Bing and you’ll get more than 2,100,000 sources of the latest and greatest grains, seeds, blends and fertilizers guaranteed to grow and attract trophy whitetail bucks. You probably don’t have the time or inclination to surf through even a fraction of those websites, and you don’t have to.
Here are some top recommendations on what to plant based on the climate, soil and typical annual rainfall in your region.
Northeast Food Plots
For almost two decades wildlife habitat expert Neil Dougherty has experimented with food plots on hunting properties in New York and across the Northeast. After evaluating more than 1,000 test food plots he’s found that planting a 60/40 mix of perennial clover like Imperial Whitetail Clover and chicory in late spring is best. By mid-May the clover, which has 30% to 35% protein to help overall deer health and grow big racks, is producing major tonnage, and the chicory (40% to 44% protein) kicks in soon thereafter to provide a steady food source for lactating does and bucks putting on new antlers.
Dougherty says to supplement your spring food plots with cool-season (fall) plots heavy with brassicas, like Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Winter Greens. This way you provide deer with feed virtually year-round. In the Northeast these type seeds are best planted during a rainy period in late July or August. Come the first frosts and snow in late fall and early winter, the starch in the brassicas turns to sugar and provides deer with sweet feed on through the cold months.
Mid-Atlantic States Food Plots
One deer hunter that has lived and hunted primarily in Virginia and across the Mid-Atlantic all his life has experimented with lots of seeds and blends. He always comes back to the time-tested Ladino clover, which you can plant most anywhere there’s adequate soil moisture and sunlight. Ladino clover is a high-quality perennial (about 25% protein) that, once you plant it in late August or September, will last for 5 years and can be easily over-seeded from time to time. It’s low-maintenance, and that’s important because most hunters are a one-man show, and don’t have a lot of time, money and equipment to put into deer food plots year after year.
Here’s a good trick this deer hunter has learned from fellow Virginia hunter and deer manager. Plant a long, 10-yard-wide strip of Ladino clover, leave a 20-yard strip of natural vegetation (blackberry, honeysuckle, etc.) in a field, plant another strip of clover, leave another strip of native growth, until your have an entire 1- to 2-acre field patterned and planted this way. You’ll have a smorgasbord to attract and feed deer (and other wildlife) year-round.
Southeast Food Plots
Since deer densities are so high from South Carolina to Mississippi, you need to max out planting every open field, strip, edge, forest clearing, log road on your property. Otherwise, deer will eat you out of house and home. For April planting, try Biologic Biomaxx, a blend of corn and 3 varieties of soybeans. The corn nurses up the beans; Dixie deer especially love the bean leaves, which are high in protein and highly nutritious for bucks growing racks. After Labor Day, plant some more cool-season food plots, strips and clearings with a fall attractant like Biologic Green Patch Plus, which is a mix of wheat, oats, clover and brassicas. Plants will come up thick and green in a few weeks and pull deer from all around during your bow season.
South and Mid-Texas Food Plots
Don’t waste your time and money planting traditional food plots in the spring because this region is so prone to drought. “We plant mostly cool-season plots because our late-summer and fall rains are more dependable; hurricane season results in successful plots 3 out of every 4 years,” says chief wildlife biologist for the famous King Ranch. He recommends simple fall attractants like triticale, oats, winter wheat and rye grass. He says you can also do well with fall-attractant blends from Tecomate and Biologic.
Midwest Food Plots
Here’s a simple but effective year-round strategy to feed and nurture does and giant bucks from Michigan to Ohio to Missouri. In late April or May, plant a couple of 2- to 4-acre fields with soybeans. In August to mid-September come back and plant a 20- to 25-yard strip of Buck Forage Oats all the way around the beans. The lush, green oats will pop up and attract deer during the October bow season, and the soybeans, which contain 20% to 25% protein, are the best food source for Midwestern deer from November to January.