With a couple of new plots and a variety of food plot soil and weed conditions, I had to rely completely on my old faithful of food plot blends: 25 pounds per acre of late planted forage soybeans, 100 pounds per acre of forage peas, 25 pounds per acre of oats, 3 pounds per acre of tillage radish on one half, and then a 6 pounds per acre mix of Northwoods Whitetails Sweet Feast Brassicas on the other half of all of the plots.
This 2018 blend is the culmination of years of no non-sense fail-proof blends for myself, clients, readers and viewers. After broadcasting 200 pounds of Winter Rye per acre in mid to late September, over the oats, beans, peas and radish half, this mega blend will carry the potential to attract, hold and feed deer a huge diversity of forage, well into the months of Winter.
*Have you ever planted 8 acres of seed with a Bag Spreader? I did in 2018 and it wasn't even close to the number of acres I have planted in a single planting season with a bag. In 2006 I spread over 7000 pounds of fertilizer, seed and lime on a total of 18 acres of my own food plots in 3 states, with that oh-so-familiar Earthway model 2750 spreader. Trust me, the bruise on your shoulder goes away eventually!
2018 Best Food Plot Details
A solid planting of leafy green forage can and in many cases should, be the foundation of most food plot systems. The ability of "green" to dictate, define and maintain food plot movements all hunting season, is arguably better than any other planting combination. For example while soybeans can be a beast of a late season attraction, beans can be a very poor draw during October and November, or in some cases Down to the Dirt before the hunting season even begins to heat up. Corn is an outstanding November food source but like any other forage -even green varieties- corn is a great food source for only a portion of the hunting season. However, a Combination of greens, can create a pattern of feeding on each and every plot that you plant, for each week of the season - and more!
Planted roughly 10 weeks prior to your first frost date (early August in SW WI), a combination of greens can deliver for pre-season, in-season and post-season attraction. Each and every day. If you are located in the traditional Northern 1/2 of the Country locations including nearby ag and portions of homes, rural living and somewhat broken woodlots, my recommendations are typically somewhere around this, depending upon your planting resources:
1st 1/2 of Food Plot (per acre)
*25 pounds of soybeans
*100 pounds of forage peas
*25 pounds of forage oats
**200 Pounds of rye grain broadcasted over this 1/2 roughly 4-5 weeks later
2nd 1/2 of Food Plot (planted same time as 1st 1/2)
*Your favorite Brassica Blend - typically 6 to 7 pounds per acre
The goal of any great food plot planting should be to provide forage for the entire hunting season and beyond. The hunting season is a great time to begin offering food for the local deer herd, at a time when the local habitat is dying and there is ever decreasing amounts of food available to the local deer herd. Something very important to ask yourself, is just how many weeks of the hunting season does your food plot system really offer food and attraction. If you have any holes, make sure to consider a green food source planting mega blend, to create the availability of season-long forage opportunity.
*It may seem like a lot of walking, but using a hand held spreader is a great way to make sure exactly how much seed you are broadcasting on the soil. Efficient Food Plot practices are critical for success on small parcels, where making sure that you are meeting the needs of the local herd and giving yourself a great hunt, go hand-in-hand..
Best Food Plot Blend Strategy
Making sure that the local deer has something to dine on during their Afternoon Feeding slot, isn't the only benefit that my 2018 Best Food Plot Blend has to offer. The beans, peas and young oats are the candy that deer crave while the plots are beginning to take shape heading into September. What that creates is an opportunity for deer to not only feed heavily on a high quality green food source after shifting out of their Summer habitats, but to allow the brassica planting on the other 1/2 of the plot to be left alone. With reinforcements coming in the form of fresh, young and tender Winter rye about 4-5 weeks later, a considerable amount of time can pass before deer begin to focus on the young brassica plants on the other 1/2 of the plot. With time to mature, the brassica portion of the plots can approach nearly 2 tons of forage heading into the heart of the season. The hear of the season is the perfect time for whitetails to begin to focus heavily on your food plots, creating the opportunity for you to attract, hold and build a quality deer herd, as well as to create an outstanding hunt.
*if you plant it, they will come. However, if they arrive on your land, you have to use high quality hunting methods that avoid Spooking Them!
Best Food Plot Blend Balance
Let the reader and viewer beware, because even though though my 2018 best food plot blend is applicable for at least 50% of all deer parcels in the North 1/2 of the country, it may not be a fit for you, in particular if you live in a heavily wooded setting. In locations where agricultural land and high quality open pasture settings are not available to provide high quality browse and forage opportunities, you will likely find that deer will devour my latest best food plot mix. This can create a giant hole of attraction during the hunting season! Beans and peas may be too attractive in areas where high quality forages are in short supply, so consider a heavy amount of cereal grains such as rye and oats. In fact, I have lived and planted in these areas, and I can highly recommend my Layered Rye practice. The layered rye planting strategy is a great way to keep hungry whitetails from over-browsing your plantings!
*I love late planted forage soybeans because they stay green and highly productive nearly 1/2 way thru the season. They fully cover the perfect timing for a Prime Time Deer Census!
An important question to ask yourself is just how long you realistically expect your food plots to attract deer throughout the entire season. If you have any weeks or months that you suspect that deer will not be able to find adequate forage on your plots, try considering the power of a leafy green base to create forage opportunities all season long.