*To make sure that you are hunting your food plot at the best time to hunt, don’t miss out on my2017 Whitetail Rut Forecast.
Food Plots to Hold and Attract for the Entire Season
The best 2016 food plot mix has to be a mix that you can count on to attract, hold and provide a high volume of quality nutrition for, during the entire entire hunting season. That mix should also give you the best opportunity to build and hunt a quality deer herd at the same time. Although my favorite food plot seed company is Northwood’s Whitetails, I have no contractual obligation to promote any one type of seed or food plot planting. What I mean by that is that I use my experience of planting food plots or instructing others to plant food plots, to recommend the seed varieties that work the best and not what makes me the most money to say is the best. Each year I tweak my recommendations for what has worked the best up to this point for both myself and my clients, and I can’t wait to reveal to you the ingredients for my favorite 2016 food plot mix.
Back in 1999 I began mixing food plot seed varieties. Mixes containing rye and clover or brassica and clover weren’t commercially available yet, so I had to create my own. I began expirementing with mixes because single seed varieties are always limited for the number of weeks or months that they will contribute to the attraction, nutrition and volume of a food plot. Depending on the location, corn may be great for late October and November, but really lacking in September and early October. Soybeans may be great for Sept and a cold December, but poor for October and November. Also, perennials such as clover and alfalfa may be great November food sources for locations like southern OH, IL and KY, but a very poor mid season food source in northern settings. The bottom line, the strategy of mixing seed varieties is critical to your overall food plot strategy. Maybe you should mix seeds together in a combo planting or plant them side-by-side in strip plantings, but either way; variety and diversity is key when it comes to successful food plotting. However, not everyone has the same resources of time, money and space to create the ultimate food plot mix.
*Making sure that your food plots are growing by late August, sets you up perfectly to collect mature bucks on your land during their annual Summer to Fall habitat shift.Both my 2017 (above) and 2016 (below) Best Food Plot Mixes, were designed to capture mature bucks during their annual shift.
My favorite overall planting mixes contain a variety of greens first (rye,oats,beans,brassicas and peas), corn second and soybeans 3rd. To include greens, corn and beans in the same location is an outstanding strategy. However, not all lands and resources can establish the “Ultimate 3”, when it comes to planting a successful food plot. In fact, when you attempt to offer all 3 but lack the resources of space to do so, nobody wins; including the deer!
Latest and Greatest 2016 Food Plot Recommendation
It’s time to dive right into the base planting that works in nearly every location in the North 1/2 of the United States. There is a huge amount of advanced herd, hunting and habitat strategies that relate to these recommendations, so I urge you to make sure that you own my highly reviewed food plot strategy book so that you can fully appreciate the concepts. However, the base of the planting consists of a heavy dose of greens, as well as an important tip: Plant 2 (3 or 4 with corn and beans) different different combinations, side-by-side, in each food plot. On each 1/2 of the plot I urge you to plant a cereal grain base as well as a brassica base, beginning in the last week of July (with moisture) in the northern MN/WI/MI/NY line. You can also plant up to mid-August in a line of Southern IA/IL/IN/OH and PA. In SW WI my target planting date, with moisture, is August 1st.
-My favorite brassica blend is available through Northwoods Whitetails, Inc., but regardless of what you use, the lower the % of Dwarf Essox Rape (DER), the better. DER is a cheap, low volume filler and the majority of high quality commercially produced brassica blends do not include DER. Variety is key! 5-7 seed varieties of rape, turnips and radishes is needed to create the highest level of attraction and use. After determining the appropriate window for your brassica planting, choose the 1/2 of your plot you want to grow the brassica base and make sure to plant before an expected rain event.
Small Cereal Grain Blend
–While the brassica blend is the high volume glamour crop of the two base green food pot mixes, the cereal grain blend is the fool-proof workhorse, requiring two separate planting dates to maximize the amount of space and volume per acre. The first planting should be timed with the brassica planting, and includes no more than 30-40#s of oats per acre, combined with at least 100#s of peas (forage or Austrian) per acre. To enhance the mix, try adding 25#s of soybeans per acre and cutting the rate of peas in 1/2. Also, adding 10#s of Med. Red Clover is a great soil builder for the following year, as well as a great early Summer forage. Next, your 2016 food plot would not be complete without following up 4-6 weeks later, with a broadcasting of 150#s per acre of Winter Rye. You can expect the “candy” of the young oats, peas and soybeans to outcompete the brassica growth, with a high level of August and September attraction. This also allows your brassica to get a good base of growth before being foraged on in late October or November.
*While the seed formula for my 2016 Best Food Plot Mix is slightly different, the concepts are exactly the same. Check out the wicked storms that brought us immediate germination, in early August of 2016!
Corn and Beans
Corn and beans can be a great addition to your 2016 food plot, but make sure to cover your bases first with the highly reliable and highly diverse plantings of green. Personally, I do not have enough potential food plot space to include corn and beans, so I haven’t planted any for years. The practice of planting cereal grain and brassica bases has allowed me to harvest the majority of my neighborhood target bucks for 2 decades, even when surrounded by corn and beans. Greens create a highly strategic base that is extremely hard to beat. However, when the amount of space and equipment allows for, I recommend corn in 1/3rd of your food plots 1 acre of size or greater and then soybans at a rate of 25% of your total food plot acreage on plots at leat 1.5 acres or greater. In my experience corn trumps beans (on average) for its ability to withstand heavy grazzing as well as for its level of attraction during October and November, so my client recommendations include a heavy dose of corn if the amount of food plot acreage is limited
*Bringing beautiful fields of green into your 2016 hunting season can deliver huge levels of success, if they are Hidden.
For your 2016 food plots, diversity is more important than ever!
So many food plots include only one planting. Beautiful fields of single-planted rye, oats, beans, corn and brassicas may look beautiful, but will each be extremely limiting for not only attraction, but for your 2016 hunting season success. Since the late 90s I have rarely relied on single variety food plots and for my efforts, I have been rewarded greatly. What will be my 2017 best food plot recommendation? I am sure it will be something close! However, you can bet money it will include yet another way to strategically add diversity to the mix.