Food Plot Information

Wildlife food plot products can be divided into several groups as to the type of plant species and the time of year when deer, in particular, will feed on them. I will only include products that I market in this but there are others available. There types will include Clovers, Chicory, Brassicas (rapeseed, turnips, rutabaga, etc.) and King Annual Ryegrass.

The Clover group includes Ladino, White Dutch Clover, Alsike, Red Clover, Crimson and Berseem Clover. Crimson and Berseem Clover should be treated in Minnesota as annuals. All of the above clovers can be planted from early spring to about the first week in August anywhere in Minnesota. The later plantings, of course, will give you limited forage growth. Clovers are highly nutritious plants that provide forage growth for deer, turkey and grouse from early spring to mid-fall. The Clover group are will withstand low PH soil very well, as long as the sulfur levels are kept in the 26 pound per acre area and other fertility, phosphorus and potassium, in particular, are adequate. A soil sample will be required to determine this. Clover also survives well on a variety of soil types, from sandy to clay types. Do not plan on peat soils, however, a plot of Ladino, Red Clover, Alsike and White Clover would be a perennial plot. Clovers can be used for frost seeding in early spring.

Chicory is a deep rooted perennial plant that deer and turkeys love. It can be planted either dormant seeded, when there is still a little snow on the ground, through about the middle of July for best results. It is a small seed the like Clovers, should be planted no more than ½ inch deep. The second year of growth, the plant will shoot up a flowering stem with alternating blue flowers. The deer still seem to like it a lot, but it is a coarser plant the second year. Chicory works well in a perennial plot mixture or on its own. It is also well suited to a variety of soil types and needs adequate fertilization.
Brassicas are a group of annual plants that produce large volumes of forage primarily for deer and turkeys. The main ones I use are: Rangi, Giant and Dwarf Essex Rapeseed and Green Globe and Tyfon Turnips. These all should be considered for your late fall and through winter supplemental foods plots species. In my testing, there are some differences in the palatability and production between varieties, but they all supply tremendous quantities of protein, carbohydrates and minerals with proper fertilization. They require nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur for production, so a soil sample should be taken and recommendation of your fertilizer representative followed. Deer will forage on Rapeseed and Turnips when they are tender in early growth stages, but if they eat them when the plants are large, other than nibbling, before a hard frost, it might indicate a substantial overpopulation of deer or also may indicate that other food sources are in short supply or nutrition available in other sources is low. Plant from Late May to the end of July.
King Annual Ryegrass
King Annual Ryegrass is an annual forage product that I have found is an excellent source of nutrients for deer and other wildlife, from early spring into early to mid-winter. It produces large quantities of power-packed forage that deer really love. Of all the products I have tried in my plots, the deer; I think, would choose King Annual Ryegrass Number 1 in their taste test. King Annual Ryegrass can be planted in early spring for a quck early boost. King Annual Ryegrass needs to be grazed down or clipped before heading if planted in the spring, because it matures, quickly. My choice is to plant it form the first or second week in July, to about the first week in August. With planting in that range, King Annual Ryegrass should produce succulent forage all fall and leave enough left for a food bank into the early winter. King Annual Ryegrass can be used for no-till planting, as long as a no-till planting, as long as the ground is likely to stay wet for a week or more, likely in spring when the temperature is low, or at any time in an extended rainy spell. It germinates vigorously and GROWS FAST. I have had protein and carbohydrate levels in my plantings to 30% with very high levels of minerals as well.