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Summer food plots for deer
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I am looking to plant something for the summer to supplement the nutrition of the deer herd on my place. I want something that will continue to grown as they deer eat.

Any suggestions?

This is not something I plan on hunting over once deer season arrives. I want to attract deer to my place and give them the nutrition they need to grow bigger horns.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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I just scatter piles of corn and small mineral blocks throughout the property and replenish as needed. As the season approaches, I stop this and just put corn in 2 areas I intend to hunt. Seems to work OK. and not much work.
 
Posts: 8740 | Location: Georgia | Registered: 28 October 2006Reply With Quote
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A few years ago we began to establish perennial clover food plots on our forty. Deer use increased and the number of fawns raised on the place went up to. In our area that clover feeds the deer about 10months out of the year.

When I have to establish a plot in the fall, I prep the site and plant winter wheat and bob oats, lightly disk that in, then I over seed it with clover and turnips..and then run a roller over it.

The wheat, oats and turnips provide a great fall winter plot, and when spring rolls around the clover starts to shine... To maintain the clover I mow a couple times and will spray to keep the grass from invading to fast.

Sometimes we add chicory to our clover plots too...deer love it.

We get our seed from Hancock seed in Florida, they have been helpful in picking seed varieties that will work for us..

I'm sold on perennial food plots...

Z
 
Posts: 448 | Location: Arkansas Delta | Registered: 01 November 2004Reply With Quote
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Interesting.

I planted one plot with turnips and mustard. They grew but not big. Nothing is touching it.

I have several rye grass plots out now. All grew well. Of course, they only last for so long.

I don't know of anyone growing clover in these parts. I am not sure why that is. I will make inquiries.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry contact your county extension agent where your land is. If clover will grow there he will know and be able to help get you going.
 
Posts: 448 | Location: Arkansas Delta | Registered: 01 November 2004Reply With Quote
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Thank you sir.

I think I have to be careful. I belong to a LARGE ( land size) private club. They had these researchers at the University of Florida tell them all of these great and wonderful things about some thing or another. Keep in mind that UF is 25 miles away. One would not grow at all in the area. The other grew but the local deer would not touch it.

I think the Florida Wildlife Commission has some biologist in each area that might be of help.

One of the major problems we face is having everything destroyed by hogs and turkeys before they grow.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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No doubt being in central Florida would make food plot management a special challenge.

It took a while for our deer to begin using the turnips...they get sweeter as the cold weather hits this time of year. Warm as it is in your area, turnips may never get the deer excited!

I hope you find something that works!
 
Posts: 448 | Location: Arkansas Delta | Registered: 01 November 2004Reply With Quote
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It got to the low 30’s a week or so ago. I thought that might trigger some activity.

It didn’t.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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It needs to freeze for the turnips to be palatable to deer.
Hope you do not have any wild hogs in the area. They will tear up that plot when those turnips are sweet.
quote:
Originally posted by zeeriverrat1:
No doubt being in central Florida would make food plot management a special challenge.

It took a while for our deer to begin using the turnips...they get sweeter as the cold weather hits this time of year. Warm as it is in your area, turnips may never get the deer excited!

I hope you find something that works!
 
Posts: 2203 | Location: Texas | Registered: 06 January 2009Reply With Quote
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There are lots of hogs. It should have frozen earlier in the week. We will see when I get home.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

What have you tried so far? Are you looking for a perennial that regrows every year? Or, an annual that will grow through the summer months?

Deer love most legumes. Something like soybeans or cowpeas comes to mind. Buckwheat may be another option. It is a short growing crop but should reseed. It may not germinate during the dry months. I have had it reseed here in Ohio surviving, the seed, over the winter. The seed should survive extended dry weather.

Small plot size can sometimes be a problem in getting food plots established. Deer and hogs may eat newly planted crops before they can become established. Soybeans can take a lot of foraging once they are established. Deer can eat a lot of small soybean seedlings and clean a plot up before it gets established. This happens in Ohio when the DNR tried to plant sunflowers for dove plots. The deer would eat the seedlings as they emerged from the ground.

Tom
 
Posts: 338 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 21 November 2014Reply With Quote
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I went up this weekend for the first time in a month and a half. I spent a lot of time filling feeders, establishing mineral sites and protein feeders. I also did site prep work for the food plots..

The only thing I actually have planted right now is rye grass. I have 4 plots of that. While the critters are flocking to them, I do not expect them to last long as it heats up nor do they provide much nutrition.

I am going to try aeschynomene in the wetter areas and sunn hemp in the dryer areas.

My current plan is to feed to deer as opposed to setting up the plots to hunt over. I want to make them healthy which will hopefully result in larger bucks. Right now, I am planning on 9 plots. They aren't all big. I have to make do with the spaces I have.

I expect to make some mistakes that I will learn from. For example, while my rye grass has been wildly successful, I think I planted it too early.

I am concerned with the deer, hogs and turkeys hammering the seeds. There is a substance that some spread that will keep them off for a while. I am going to try it.

I just signed a contract today to add 410 acres to the ranch.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

Those both sound like good choices. I have no personal experience with either. Both are legumes and are palatable. They should be a good summer protein source.

Tom
 
Posts: 338 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 21 November 2014Reply With Quote
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Well, this entire exercise has proven far more difficult than I anticipated.

I made my mineral licks according to what I read at the QDMA website. Nothing hit them. I found these bags of minerals for cattle that had all the necessary minerals. I put out 50 pound bags in my licks. They got hammered then. However, it was all by hogs.

I got this bright idea to get the minerals off the ground and purchased a number of the Moultrie gravity feeders that strap to a tree. These were filed with 50 pound sacks of the minerals referred to above. These either went untouched or got hammered by big hogs.

My efforts with minerals have been a total waste of time and money.

I ordered a dozen protein feeders that strap to a tree. Fortunately, only one came in. I put it out. Started off with corn and worked into the protein. At some point, I put a camera on this feeder to see what was happening. Much to my surprise, it was coons. Coons were climbing up the tree and physically climbing into the feeder. Not a single deer visited the feeder. I purchased some cheap alternatives when my other 11 feeders did not come in. Deer did not come in there either. Thus far my protein efforts have been a total waste of time and money.

I have prepped several areas for food plots. Of these areas, 4 have been fertilized weeks ago. These were on the existing 300 acres. I just closed last week on another 410 acres nearby. Needless to say, no prep work was done on that land.

Last weekend, in anticipation of rain, I threw out some lime and planted two areas with a blend that someone sent me. Thanks Karl. While it did rain, it did not rain as much as it was supposed to. Much to my surprise, in slightly less than a week, the plots seem to be growing well. I am a little concerned that the deer may hammer them before they grown to maturity. The deer are on them already. I am also concerned that the forecast is for no rain in the next two weeks.

I was going to plant others. Unfortunately, a pin came out of the disc harrow. That pretty much ended that.

The next 60 days are going to be the absolute busiest of the year for me. I hope I can somehow get the others planted .

I have tried. The hogs and raccoons have been a big problem.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Thank God I don’t have hogs, yet. But they are on farms within 5 miles, so it’s only a matter of time. Since I turn 70 this week, it may not happen before I am too old to care!! rotflmo
 
Posts: 8740 | Location: Georgia | Registered: 28 October 2006Reply With Quote
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If you have a Tractor Supply or an Ollie's store buy bulk bird seed. It is mostly millet, sunflower, and numerous other seeds. Ollie's in SC has 20 lb bags for $6. Disc or rake it in and you should have plenty of succulent growth for them to graze on.
 
Posts: 2445 | Location: SC,USA | Registered: 07 March 2002Reply With Quote
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I did start replanting . I planted 3 areas with sun hemp and 1 area with aeschynomne . I have not been back. A worker told me that it was growing but the deer were hammering the hell out of it.

He sent pictures. The tracks were astounding especially considering that it had been raining daily. The words beat down comes to mind when looking at the ground.

I have gotten no where near what I wanted planted. This is in part due to my workload and in part due to the distance.

I am new at this. I am learning a lot. I think the next time I do this, I will put out milorganite. Hopefully , the smell will keep,them off of it for a while. I am never planting anything with peas again. The deer eat them all as soon as they start to sprout.

I also think that small plots are easily destroyed by the deer. I am somewhat limited in the areas that I can plant. It is what it is.

It is getting kind of late. My thoughts are that I am going to do it differently next year . Some of the things that I am going to do are:
1- Spray the weeds better
2- Place protein feeders in a fenced in area to keep hogs out.
3- plant all of my large plots in sun hemp
5-plant all of my smaller plots in sorghum
6- use milorganite from the start
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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After the passing of my biggest deadline of the year, I went back to the ranch. The amount of rain had been insane. All but one of the replanted areas had definitely grown. However, they had been hammered by the deer. It had rained so hard that I could not tell whether or not the deer has been on the plots recently. I could definitely tell where both the sun hemp and the aeschynomne had been clipped by the critters. Hmmm.


There was one plot, in a prime area, that had previously looked like the deer & hogs had wiped it out. A blend had been planted there. I had decided the hell with this one previously as the PH of the soil was super high. Much to my surprise, this plot is now covered in sorghum! This place will be killer once the sorghum has the seed pods.

I thought about the existing plots and decided to do some thing difference. I spread seeds on them without using a disc. I then used my cultipacker on the areas. Afterwards, I spread milorganite.

With one exception, these are growing like crazy. The rains appear to have washed up some of the seeds. One plot seen to not want to grow. I have done the exact same thing that I have done to the others. I do not have an answer.


I went to the new area. There are a total of 5 plots. I planted them as follows:


> - 1 in sun hemp

>- 1 in sorghum

> - 2 in a mixture of sorghum & sun hemp

> - 1 in a mixture of a blend, sun hemp & sorghum.

Milorganite was used. The first was planted last weekend. The critters have stayed off of it. The seeds have sprouted. The plants are about 3 inches high now. Some that were planted last Thursday have just started to sprout.

I have a total of two plots that have proven difficult to get things to grow. I will make some comments below and would appreciate any feedback from you experts. I am totally clueless on this.

> There is a large (for me) area. We burned the hell out of it and removed all of the debris. It is quite sandy. There is a narrow strip of pines (20 feet) to another portion of this same plot. However, the soil is much firmer there. It was limed and fertilized. A VERY small portion of the seeds are sprouting. The second attempt to seed it was last Thursday. It may grown from that. it will be about three weeks until I get back up there.


My theory is that the sand is too deep. To avoid getting stuck, they are having to drag the cultipacker behind the four wheeler relatively fast. I think the sand is being chewed up too much. Thus, burying the seed too deeply.

Any other ideas? This place should be killer.

> The other place is probably a half to three quarters of an acre. The soil is relatively firm. It has been fertilized and limed. It seems that in one small area of the plot, the sum hemp is growning like crazy. The rest of the plot was pretty much a waste.

I really don't know what to make out of this

Any ideas would be appreciated.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

It sounds like you figured out what the deer like!

Small plots sizes, under 2-3 acres can be a challenge to get established. The ODNR in Ohio has quit planting sunflowers for dove plots because the deer eat them as they emerge.

Having larger food plots will reduce the percentage of the crop the deer eat before it can become established.

The best way to supplement minerals will be through the crops in the food plots. Liming and fertilizing will help. Until the protein, and other nutrient, levels are met mineral deficiency will not be a big problem.

As far as the plots that aren't growing. When you talk about too much sand is the sand real loose? Like sugar sand? If so that may not be easily addressed. Maybe planting after a rain? Broadcast seeding might work, if it doesn't dry out too quickly.

Another option could be seeding into a standing cover crop. You could try planting winter rye, killing it with something like roundup and then planting into the sprayed rye. If you don't have a no-till planter plant while the rye is standing. If you do have a no-till planter you could wait until the rye falls and plant through it. The fallen rye will help hold soil moisture. This may not be feasible for your situation.

Tom
 
Posts: 338 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 21 November 2014Reply With Quote
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quote:
I have a total of two plots that have proven difficult to get things to grow. I will make some comments below and would appreciate any feedback from you experts. I am totally clueless on this.

Get soil tests done to tell you what amendments are needed for those areas.


One shot , one kill
 
Posts: 197 | Location: North Carolina | Registered: 13 December 2002Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Snyper:
quote:
I have a total of two plots that have proven difficult to get things to grow. I will make some comments below and would appreciate any feedback from you experts. I am totally clueless on this.

Get soil tests done to tell you what amendments are needed for those areas.


Soil tests were done. For the most part, what was needed was added to the soil. A few were not as they were in minute quantities. For example, how does one spread a half pound of something over an acre?
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Pepper shaker and a slow walk??
 
Posts: 8740 | Location: Georgia | Registered: 28 October 2006Reply With Quote
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I made another trip up over the weekend. This entire food plot matter has been frustrating as hell, in part because of the water. There are insane amounts of water. Here is what happened:

1- I planted a strip several hundred yards long and about 5 yards wide in aeschynomene. It definitely grew. However, most of it is now underwater due to the rain. It is almost a total loss. Prior to the flooding, the deer were all over it.

2- I have a fairly sandy place that is about 400 yards long and probably 6-7 yards wide. I planted it in sun hemp. It was growing. Now all I seen are little stems sticking up about 4 inches. I am thinking the deer, hogs and turkeys hammered them.


3- I have 2 smaller plots of irregular shape. They had been just hammered previously. I replanted with sun hemp and a bit of aeschynomene. I used milorganite. The aeschynomene is thick and growing. I think I planted it too thick. The sun hemp is growing . It is probably 6 inches high. Weeds are a problem in parts of the area. I would have thought these plants would be higher by now.


4- I have a large plot that is probably 3 maybe 4 acres. It was burned to hell and back. It has probably been disked 10 times. It has been limed and fertilized. We planted a blend on it. I can't remember everything in the blend. Cow peas, sorghum, sun hemp. It started off fantastically. It looks worse now than it did 2 weeks ago. I am fairly certain that all of the peas have been eaten. The sorghum growth is noticeable. There is some kind of grass growing that is beyond horrible. I think this will have to be sprayed next time . This is so bad, I fear it will choke everything out. Spraying is necessary.

5- I have another fair sized plot that we planted in a blend. It started off well. Now part of it is under water. That portion is a lost cause. The balance seems to be growing well.

6- There is a long straight sandy road that I planted with sorghum. There was minimum preparation. Fertilizer only. It is growing but seems to be in lines which is very puzzling considering it was broadcast.


7- I have another plot in an opening in the middle of a swamp. I planted a blend there. It took a while to start growing. After it started, the critters worked most things over. I see the stems from the sun hemp sticking up. There is a bit of sorghum growing. This place is totally beat down by hogs and deer.

8-There is another large plot on the western side of the property. I had to spend a lot of tractor time getting it ready. I planted it with a blend of sorghum, sum hemp and some remaining bags of various blends. This one seems to be growing the best. It has taken a while but the critters are just now finding it.


9- I have a fair sized plot in a very sandy area in the extreme SW corner of the property. It has been disked to hell and back repeatedly, fertilized and limed. It started off good but appears the same grass mentioned earlier is going to choke most things out.



There is nothing I can do about the weather. The weeds are a bigger problem that I thought possible. I had a guy with me that is extremely experienced at this. He says he has never seen anything like it. He does this for a living.

Minerals have been an issues as well. The deer don't touch them. Hogs do. My research tells me that I am not the only one with this issue.

I am fencing in 6 feeder areas to keep the hogs out. Protein feeders will be in all 6 next year. I think I can trick them into eating the minerals.


This is no where near as easy as it seems.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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This summer has been unreal. I have water standing in places for weeks that I didn’t even know were low spots! Mad
 
Posts: 8740 | Location: Georgia | Registered: 28 October 2006Reply With Quote
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I went to check one of my shooting houses. Half way there, the water was knee deep. Then the water rose.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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I have been using the 34” x 16’ hog panels from tractor supply, using 6 strung together in a circle with T posts every 8’ to enclose my feeders. Works very well, hogs won’t enter. In several places I cut the top wire and remove 3-4’ section so the fawns can enter. Works great, have 6 done and 3 to go. Also starting, with good results, to feed 20% protein small range cubes. So will be buying more big gravity feeders to add to the 2 1200 lbs feeders I have.
Next, war on the coons. They eat a ton of corn but don’t seem to bother the protein as much. I take a suppressed .22 with subsonics to the stand with me and whack the hell out of them.
I also use the cuff leg hold traps baited with mini marshmallows. My granddaughter loves to go with me and check them.
Food plots are frustrating, as you noted. I will be putting a perennially white clover in with my oats this year in hopes of getting a year round food plot.


BUTCH

C'est Tout Bon
(It is all good)
 
Posts: 1775 | Location: Lafayette, LA | Registered: 05 October 2007Reply With Quote
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Butch:

I am fencing 6 places right now at a substantial cost. The goal was to keep the hogs off the protein and minerals.

Probably 6 weeks ago, I bought a 1250 pound gravity feeder. It took a couple of weeks for them to find it. On Monday, I pulled the camera card. Holy s#8t! I could not believe what was on it. There were 7 bucks I had never seen before. While hogs were on it, they were eating under it. They were never eating directly from the feeder. I would call it clean up.

After seeing and given my experience with food plots, I have to wonder if it isn't easier and cheaper to put out these big protein feeders.

Unfortunately, my place is 150 miles away. Hammering the coons is not so easy for me.`
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

We are early on in the protein experiment, but it does appear that we are seeing more bucks at the protein than we saw at the corn. My place is only 60 miles away but still far enough that I can't get it all done when I want it done. I should be up to speed by Oct. I also bought a JagerPro hog trap that sends pics to our phone and lets me close the gate from my phone. I should have that up and running by Oct. also.

I have also just impounded 10 acres and put in a 5 man steel pit blind for the ducks. Planted it in brown top Millett, waiting on crop duster to fly in fertilizer as I write this. Water well driller coming soon to put in new well for the duck pond. Then several months of rigging it up with diesel power unit, diesel tank and piping to pond.
There is no end to the work on the farm. LOL

I enjoy all of this but it is always hurry up and wait.


BUTCH

C'est Tout Bon
(It is all good)
 
Posts: 1775 | Location: Lafayette, LA | Registered: 05 October 2007Reply With Quote
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I am trying to figure out how to build a duck pond that works. It may be cheaper to go to Argentina!
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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I have a nice duck pond full of wood ducks. Unfortunately my wife doesn’t want me shooting them 75 yards from the house!
 
Posts: 8740 | Location: Georgia | Registered: 28 October 2006Reply With Quote
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Jerry:

I looked at a place in GA where they planted corn then flooded it. Damn, they had the ducks.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

It hasn’t been cheap to put in the duck pond but it is for future generations. My farm is adjacent to several thousand acres of rice fields and the duck hunting is good and I am right on the flyway. I was too late getting it built to go with corn or rice so millet was my best option for this year.
My best friend has three 8 acre impoundments planted in corn that he floods. The hunting is magnificent.
An added benefit just after duck season is running crawfish traps. Yum

If for some reason the duck hunting sucks I can convert it to crawfishing which can bring in several hundred dollars an acre in revenue.


BUTCH

C'est Tout Bon
(It is all good)
 
Posts: 1775 | Location: Lafayette, LA | Registered: 05 October 2007Reply With Quote
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My problems are twofold:

1- Keeping the hogs out of the crops.
2- will the ducks be there? I am not in a great area for ducks.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

The hogs will definitely hit the corn crops.
My farmers all use propane fired cannons that fire intermittently all during the night. Sitting on the corn crop with night vision equipped rifles cures some of the hog problems. A local young man who loves to hunt hogs at night has rid my farm and several others around me of 152 hogs in 2 months. That helps.

By fencing in my feeders I hope to steer the remaining hogs to my JagerPro trap which will be their only source of corn.

If you are not in a great duck area the time and expense to build a shallow water duck pond is not worth it. Better off going to Argentina etc.


BUTCH

C'est Tout Bon
(It is all good)
 
Posts: 1775 | Location: Lafayette, LA | Registered: 05 October 2007Reply With Quote
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Woodies are a definite possibility. After that , I am not so sure.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

Your results sound pretty typical. Small plot sizes can quickly become over-grazed, if they get a chance to become established. When you plant what they want to eat they will eat it as it comes up. Increasing plot size helps but, you need to get to field size before you can really overcome the deer from eating too much too early.

Flooding, wait until next year, it will be too dry!

Micronutrients are a double-edged sword. Deficiencies stunt crop growth. It is easy to apply too much which can create toxic levels. They are usually blended in with other fertilizers. Or, liquid can be sprayed. It sounds like the bigger problem is just getting things to grow before they are ground down by the deer.

You will probably pull deer from a wide range if you have the best food for them to eat. This compounds the over-grazing problem. It sounds like you should concentrate your efforts on the larger plots. Milorganite will help reduce early feeding but, a couple of rains will most likely was it off. Re-applying is an option.

It sounds like you have too many deer. The deer will over-come your efforts to grow food plots until you can physically exclude them until the plots grow up. Feeders may be the most effective use of your resources.

Tom
 
Posts: 338 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 21 November 2014Reply With Quote
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I have not been down for a month. It is good news/bad news.


1- A long narrow aeschynomene plot remains underwater.


2- Some of the smaller plots have been destroyed and/or taken over by weeds.


3- One plot that had sorghum growing very well a month ago is totally dead. This is very puzzling.


4- Some of the larger sorghum fields are growing well as is a 3 acre sorghum/sun hemp mixture.

5- In the middle of one plot, I planted aeschynomene. It is growing well. However, I planted it too thick. It is not growing high enough.


6- One extremely long sorghum plot is growing but not as high as I would like. I planted it while it was raining. I think the seeds stuck together causing them to grow in thick clumps.


7- Some have low areas where water accumulated. The standing water killed everything which was underwater.


I have learned a hell of a lot. I have brought a lot of deer from other ranches. next year, it will be even better.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Larry,

Are you planting any food plots for winter? I know turnips and beets stay pretty appealing to the deer into winter here in Ohio. I imagine they would continue to grow all winter for you.

Have fun,

Tom
 
Posts: 338 | Location: Ohio | Registered: 21 November 2014Reply With Quote
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Winter is a long way away. I am going to plant rye. The rye I planted last year did incredibly well and the critters flocked to it.

I had someone plant a mixture of turnips and mustard for me last year. Nothing touched it. I have a 10 pound bag of seed. I may plant it in one place. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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I had the opportunity to sit on some of these plots. The deer are absolutely devouring the sun hemp in my largest plot. Turkeys are hammering sorghum hard in several locations. The deer are starting to eat it.

It needs to rain a bit. The plots are dry.

The plots are competing with Acorns right now.
 
Posts: 10453 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: 26 January 2006Reply With Quote
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