Food Plots & Magic Beans
by Dana R. Rogers
Remember the old, often talked about fairy tale about magic, specifically, Jack and the Bean Stalk and his magic beans. The world of whitetail food plotting has often been inundated with different plantings, seeds touted to be that next ‘magic bean’ of sorts. I’m here to tell you that there is NO ‘magic bean,’ unfortunately. I plant a variety of offerings in my food plots every spring and summer. Variety is key, especially when you could have a failure due to drought or blight of some sort like Army Worms or Locusts.
I hang my hat on a few plantings that I believe, if you have the time and acreage, you should definitely consider. I love corn for its dual purpose of providing both standing cover, as well as a food source rich in carbohydrates during the November and December late season. It draws deer in, but it has its draw backs. It can also be very expensive to plant, spray, and it’s a nitrogen hog, which causes lots of money in fertilizer. That, and if you have a plot of corn less than four acres, I highly doubt it will stand up and produce without being whipped out by raccoons, other omnivores, and of course, the deer themselves.
I also love to plant a mix of winter wheat, oats, and I absolutely love brassicas such as rape, turnips and radishes. That mix can be great, but the plantings don’t do as well unless planted in the middle of their best dates. Turnips, radish and rape I like to plant in mid- to late-July. The grasses, like wheat and oats, do better if planted late in August or the beginning of September, at least in my northwest prairie lands. This blend, if planted in early- to mid-August would hedge and work well with a few acres to work with given proper rains.
As I said, I plant at least four different food plot varieties each year. The first two examples, as well as some clover, which I sew into the winter wheat, oat, and brassica blend to kick start the spring flush. You can also seed more clover into that field and continue on with maintenance such as mowing and spraying for grasses. Variety is great, but I’m blessed with enough land to plant several acres of plots. What if a hunter or landowner only has about four acres they can use to plant food and he wants to feed the deer in the summer as well as attract them in the fall/winter hunting season? If that’s the case, then there is only one choice in my mind–soybeans.
I was raised on a farm and ranch in central South Dakota. Dry land farming for sure. Soils that are average to above, certainly not Iowa, Illinois or Ohio bottom land, good enough though and certainly good enough to come up with some fantastic forage under the love and care of a deer hunter. I’ve toyed with different varieties of soybeans over the past decade, and many I’ve planted will work just fine. But again, if I have only the four acres and the goal is to feed in the summer as well as produce grain in the winter when the north winds blow and my thermometer bottoms out, I like my choice of late. Two years back, I did a field test of four different varieties of soybeans. I did my soil samples, ensured the temperatures were correct and I had access to good heavy equipment to prepare the soil and seed at the proper depth. I used two different blends of leftover Ag soybeans from a few neighbor farming buddies. I also tested two varieties specifically designed for food plots and whitetail deer hunting. Real World soybeans and Eagle Seeds.
All four varieties worked fine providing forage during the summer, though the Eagle Seed Mangers Mix provided the most, closely followed by the Real World’s tall stalks and nearly the same sized large leaves. The short Ag beans from Asgrow seeds were half the size, but certainly provided plenty of food. Now, I have to confess, I’m in a large agricultural area in Central SD with miles of forage everywhere. We don’t have lots of deer hovering over my plots from May through September. So, with Eagle Seed and Real World seed neck and neck on forage production of biomass and leaves during the summer, we moved on to late summer when I check the pod production.
I pulled nearly mature stems full of pods from each test row. The Ag beans as you’d imagine were full of bean pods for their short stature. The Eagle Seed blend had half of its stalks totally devoid of any pods and the other variety fairly full. The last variety was the Real World beans, and not only were they tall and full of large leaves, but they were full of dozens of pods with 3–4 beans in each pod.
I’m just a farm boy who loves to hunt and grow whitetail deer, but you should certainly give food plotting a try, if you want to grow and hold more deer on your property this fall. If you are in the South, perhaps the carbohydrates and food production during the late season doesn’t matter as much. If you are in the Northwest where the cold winter drives game miles looking for food each fall and winter, there is only one choice on this plot test, Real World Soybeans, give them a try and you’ll be a believer like me. I test plot many varieties of seeds each year and I’m not a spokesman for any particular variety. No, I don’t believe there is any one magic bean when it comes to wildlife food plot plantings, and I do recommend a variety, but if I had to recommend just one seed it would be these.
These are the real deal though, give them a look. www.realworldwildlifeseeds.com. Call (217) 994-3721 or (217) 232-0722 for a shipping quote.