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Year round food plots

6882 Views 14 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  hunting 4mee
What I am looking to implement is to have a year round food plot containing strips of different food source. Having a centralized food location gets deer accustomed to coming to one secure location year round and this in terms makes it easier to funnel deer in the food plot.

Question for the food plot experts out there. Is any of the listed seeds harder to grow here in NB, keeping in mind that the soil will be fertilized and limed accordingly.

Alice (or comparable) white clover 10% of plot

Brassicas in 45% of plot

Purple Top Turnips 3#
Dwarf Essex Rape 2#
GroundHog Forage radish 5#

Plant in mid to late July in most midwest states, or 60-90 days before your first killing frost. Follow the dead brassicas with oats and berseem or crimson clover in mid spring.

Cereal Grain combo in 45% of plot

Winter rye 50-80#'s per acre (56#'s = a bushel)
Spring oats 80-120#'s per acre (32#'s = a bushel)
Austrian Winter Peas or 4010/6040 Forage peas 20-80#'s per acre
Red Clover 8-12#'s per acre or white clover at 6#'s per acre
Groundhog Forage Radish 5#'s per acre

Plant in late August to early September

Rotate the brassicas and rye combo each year
If you have experience with any of these that have a hard time growing in our neck of the woods, what would you recommend to substitude them with?
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Bokster, what your recommending sounds good, i know alot of the US guys use this mixture. I use alot labino clover and brassica plots but this past year i added sugar beets. As of this past week the deer started to dig through the 3 inches of snow to get to the clover and surgar beet roots. There was hundreds of spots that they had dug to get clover or beets. I will be switching to the strip plots as you have mentioned above as it is a natural way to save on fertilizer and i think it helps with weed control based on there planting times. The big thing is planting in your area based on the first frost, there are a couple of guys on this site here that can give you a better date for these plantings. TH
Thanks for the reply TH. Yeah I have been reading a lot from the site that I got this ( This section has tones of information on what he does for smaller parcels of land. One of the things, as you have mentioned, is that the rotation makes it so that you are always planting things that will put nutriants back in the ground. Also with the strips it gives the ability to alternate each year. It's a neat approach and one I plan to give a try.
All of the stuff listed will grow here in NB although some things like the annual clovers will only grow during the growing season but you're using them as a plowdown anyway so rejuvenation isn't an issue.

I guess it depends on what you are trying to accomplish with what you are planting. The recommendation for annual to perennials is 40:60 but that is the US, here in the north I like the reverse at 70:30 of annuals to perennials.

You're looking at strip planting this stuff which I like. The white clover is a cool season perennial which is going to grow well in spring and again for a short period in September but will carry into October.

Let's lay it out for the year and look at it.

This spring you will plant oats and Berseem clover as well as 10% of the plot in perennial white clover? Then in July you till 50% of it (or all of it) in and plant your annual brassica mix but you still maintain your 10% clover plot. Or you plant your perennial clover in the spring and then wait till July and plant your brassica mix and then and plant your cereal mix August/Sept? Either way come September you'll have a plot composed of 10% perennials, 45% brassica and 45% cereal grains just starting along with a little red clover, radish and peas thrown in? 90% annual and 10% perennial.

So come November you'll have brassica and Rye available going into winter. I take it the deer don't hang around any during winter so you won't have to worry about feeding them then? Come spring you'll have the rye coming and the perennial clovers starting again to provide some forage?

Brassicas are always a good late fall food source but time of utilization will depend on how accustom your deer are to eating them and what else is available at the same time. It took the deer around our place about three years to start using brassica before December/January. The brassica mix look good although I would go with a larger rape variety as you really don't have to worry about overgrazing rape early here so I wouldn't limit yield by adding dwarf essex rape .

As to the cereal mix…I'm not big on annual cereal grains late planted for the fall as they don't use it much although I like cereal rye as it is cold hardy and will do well shaded. Adding all that stuff together makes for a bit of a witches brew unless you plan on strip planting each of the stuff separately. You have annuals and perennials mixed. Some stuff is cold hardy while others will die with the first frost. Some requires a lot of fertilizer while some not so much. Some are shade tolerant and some not. Australian winter pea is also a forage pea. If it was me I'd plant the rye separate from the oat/ pea mix and leave the perennial out as well since it won't have a chance to establish that late and give you a crop. I would leave out the radish since it is in the other mix anyway. The rye will last into late fall whereas the peas and oats will be dead come the first frost.

Then in the spring you will plow the rye and dead crop and plant with another annual planting of oats and annual clovers, plow it in during July and reseed again with an annual cereal and brassica mix, switching the plots?
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Bowtech again great response!

I will try to explain a bit more what I have read but for the most part you are dead on!!

The idea about the cereal mix as I understood it is as follows. The winter rye is there to provide food through winter and well into the spring as he described it as one of the first greening up in the spring. The oats are there for fall but will die once the cold settles in. He mentions using the oat to provide room in the spring for the red clover and the winter rye to be able to use up the space and grow to provide early spring food. As far as the peas and radish goes he describes them as more of a "candy" for the deer. These usually grow a bit slower then the rye and oat which deer start with then more to peas and radish. So come spring all that would be left from this mix is the red clover and the rye which should help feed in early spring

As for the brassica's they are planted in july as you have mentioned. What usually is done is that in the spring you disc/till the brassica's under and plant annual clover with oat or rye till july to help build up N. The clover and oat/rye would be again tilled/disc under to make way for the cereal mix for that year.

The rotation of the crops are on a 4 or 5 year where each year the brassica's and the cereal mix are switched. On the 4th or 5th year when the white perennial clover will need to be redone the next year, you plant white clover in the cereal mix instead of read to start you're new perennial clover.

One of the key things about this rotation is to prevent disease while building up your soil. One of the key things also is that with the "recipie" weed has a hard time getting through so less herbicide would be required. And with tilling/disc'ing everything under you build your soil and add N which then requires also less fertilizer and lime.

I am just beginning to venture into deer management. All this information is based on what I have read over the past 6 months. I have not testes any of this yet. Most of the information mentioned above can be found at: where Paul goes in greater details about his ideas with tons of pictures explaining his methods. I hope what I have tried to explain makes some sense. All tree of the types of stripes has about 20+ page of explanation which I have been trough but this is just a quick summary.
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The understand the idea behind what he proposes but it works better in a more temperate climate with higher deer densities than we have here. If you want to go that root then I would plant your cereal mix early in August or you won't have very much in the way of food. The oats and pea mix will take a week or so to germinate and die with the first frost which is usually towards the end of September. The peas don't grow near as quickly so should definitely be planted a little earlier. The rye will do alright and is good for browsing pressure and later season food but won't be very tall and will be buried with snow when we get it. Average germination time on Red clover is between 7-10 days and puts much of its growth for the first month into the roots. If you get lots of snow it can survive and be available in the spring but in most cases will winter kill if it doesn't have enough time to get it's roots established before freezing temps and we don't get the snow cover. The rye should provide some feed in the spring but the clover will just be starting when you plow it to plant your annual clover and oats. The oats, if they get any height in the fall will also smoother anything under it after it dies. I have planted oats specificallly as a smoother crop and it works great, planted early and let it die. Actually some of the cleanest seedbeds I had.
What is the purpose of the oats with the annual clovers? soil building?

Planting the clover with the cereal mix here in the fall and the next spring you'll have a very spotty clover plot which will actually be taken over by weeds. You would be better to turn the cereal mix over in the spring and plant your white clover then.

Rotation is a great way to break up disease cycles and I highly recommend it. Also adding anything back into the soil is always beneficial whether that is a green manure crop or not.

With smaller plots less than an acre or two then you definitely want to stay away from more preferred foods but if you plan on more than 1-2 acres I wouldn't personally consider planting less preferred cereals unless I was looking for a clean seedbed in the spring for something that needed it. I have tried cereals, buckwheat, and several "other" crops but they don't get the utilization to be worth the space IMO.

Here is a strip planting of cereals, perennial mix, beans and brassica I did a few years ago to try out some of the different crops

Here is another strip planting that I think had corn, forage pea, lablab, canola, soybeans and a perennial mix.

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I guess I have have come full circle with my plots. I don't try a lot of new crops or mixes anymore, although I planted most every crop at one time or another. saying that I do I plan on planting forage radish this year to see how it does. My thinking now is to stick to highly preferred crops or stuff that can provide the nutrition when they need it the most. I don't see the sense in planting the less preferred clovers, cereals, etc to withstand high deer densities since we don't have that problem. I look at a highly preferred perennial mix like Alfalfa, chicory and ladino clover and a couple staggered plantings of soybeans, one for beans and one coming on for the first killing frost during early bow season. In addition I plant Corn and brassica to round it off. Corn, brassica and soybeans will last the longest into the fall/winter, stay above the snow cover the longest and provide the best nutrition for bucks regaining weight after the rut and also provide the most residual crops in the spring before anything starts to grow when deer are coming back off winter yards. Then the perennial crops will come on for freshening does and bucks recovering from winter stress. The soybeans are my main summer forage for lactating does and bucks growing antlers. In the early fall I have a new planting of green and growing beans when the others are starting to brown off and perennials will take another growth spurt. Then it's brassicas, soybean pods and corn late fall into winter.
If I was in the midwest where there are corn and beans everywhere I would look at other stuff if I was interested in providing something different to try and compete against such large acreages of beans and corn but here in the NE I haven't found anything better than a good perennial mix and soybeans until you get into hunting season. Then it becomes whether you are interested in hunting plot foods or providing actual nutirition to get them into shape for the winter. For the later fall I think brassica should be included in any plot whether for hunting or nutrition.
The only cereal I consider now is cereal rye and that is because it can do well in smaller wooded hunting plots with some shading. Not highly preferred but hard to beat as a late season hunting plot located in the woods when you are looking for something to add with your brassica that can withstand browsing and last late into the fall.
I still rotate plots and fallow some each year and ocassionally do a plow down crop to provide green manure but if you have a few acres, the highly preferred basic crops either strip planted or whole field are still the best IMO.
This works for me and the way I do things but I think it's important for guys to try and see what works for them. Stick with some of the basics but try new stuff to see if it works or not and how it fits with their system and the equipment they have at their disposal. Each neck of the woods is different and what may work here may not work so great in another spot with the deer densities, land available and eqipment each of us have to work with.

Let us know how the plots work out. I like everything you have described and you definitely are on the right track with rotation, green manure plow down, nitrogen fixation, etc. I do question the cereal mix and how it will work in the system proposed. I would look at planting it earlier either way and I would love to hear how it does. I think it would make a great experimental plot. I don't think it will work out quite as well as it does in the midwest but I have been wrong before and it may work exactly the same. I would like to know if it does. The only other thing I wonder about it adding the oats with the annual clover. Is it added as a soil builder?

On the annual clovers... I know a guy on the Island that has had good luck growing Crimson Clover as a plow down crop. I don't know anyone using Berseem clover though. It is a drought tolerant clover for the mid US and southern states, it will do well on poorly drained sites and is good for alkaline soils of the south but not cold tolerant at all and isn't recommended for the north but it will grow here.
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I read some of Paul's recommendations and the reasoning of why he uses the mix above. He is using the grains as a nurse crop for the clover establishment in the cereal mix and plowdown with the annual clover. I think it is a great idea for the plow down but not as a nurse crop for the red clover/cereal idea, not if the intent is to establish a weed free clover plot.

Using a nurse crop you are actually supposed to remove the cereals by harvesting or you defeat the purpose and most of the benefits of a nurse crop.

Nurse crops serve a few purposes, originally designed to provide a cereal crop and still be left with a perennial crop the following year without further seeding.

Food plotters started using it because in agriculture it is also has a side benefit of providing weed suppression for your clovers since they take longer to establish and also are available earlier than the clover to alleviate some of the grazing pressure on the clover while it establishes, a problem we don't have. The problem with this is that it is supposed to be harvested off or it will actually kill out a portion of your clover when it dies from smothering unless you have the deer densities to do it for you. Going with lower seeding rates will help but IMO an unnecessary addition which will actually cause a weedier plot come spring than if you just went with perennials to begin with, unless of course you can harvest it.
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It makes a lot of sense though that the cereal mix wouldn't be as good around here since our densities aren't as high as they have over there. I guess around here since we don't have too much browse pressure soybeans would indeed be a better crop to use since they are some of the best during winter along with corn.

Well you have provided great information Bowtech. I will take what you have mentioned into serious consideration.

On a side note. Here in NB I believe most of the deers "migrate" to the winter yards correct? Since you have begun deer management on your land do you get the sens that some of the deer stay around for the whole winter? I ask because Paul's idea are largely based on the approach of having one central feeding area where deer can find food year round. By doing this deer will often skipped standing soybeans or corn to go to his plot since they feel secure there and will just travel from the bedding area to the centralized food plot making patterning the deer real easy.
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Information and advise is free so take it for what it is worth
. Try some different ideas and see what works for you. I (we) have no problem establishing relatively weed free perennials here in the north as it stays cool for a longer time and we get good growth before the heat of summer comes to slow them down and warm season weeds get a foothold.

Most of our deer migrate to wintering areas but the more late season food you provide on your property (as long as you have adequate cover) the more deer you will hold over the winter. When we first moved back to the farm pretty much all our deer migrated to wintering areas, now we have as many as a dozen sticking around all winter. Deer tend to learn to migrate to wintering areas from following maternal does and other deer so if the doe is shot and the food and cover is there fawns tend to stay, over time you will see more and more of your resident deer staying if you provide the food and cover.

As to the central feeding area I agree with the idea and that is what I try to do. My main nutritional plot is the center (relatively) of the property and that is where I want the deer to concentrate year round. You have to remember that the midwest has seasons lasting past the rut and antlered deer are hunted into mid January and antlerless till the end of january so providing a food source where they feel secure at that time would indeed make sense. The large soybean and cornfields would be a tough place for secure feeding for deer in the midwest since they are looking for food, and hunters looking for deer would concentrate on those areas. Providing an secure alternative food source to beans and corn centralized on the property would be a terrific idea, especially if he already has some. It would have to be a more temperate area where it would still be growing into the late fall and they don't deal with the same amount of snow that is going to cover it.

Here again we don't have that problem as our season is done in November before the rut even starts to wind down and we usually will have lots of snow even before the end of the actual rut. The best food source for nutrition after season is something that is going to be above the snow or not far under the surface where they don't have to spend a lot of reserves getting to it. It can still be centralized on the property but they need the carbohydrates then to get fat back on. They won't walk by corn, brassica and bean fields here (if they are accustom to eating it) as it is much preferred at that time of year over rye, other dead cereals or dormant clover for adding fat back on provided they can get to it. What you plant for hunting over may be different as you want something attractive during October/November to bring in the does. Then it comes down to why are you planting what you plant, is it for nutrition and health to get them ready for winter or is it to hunt over.

Couple more things to consider as you look at what to do. They are looking to pattern bucks around the late food sources after the rut when bucks are back on food. You're in a different situation hunting them in November when the main attraction is hot does.

There are a couple design ideas, one is combination hunting/nutritional plots to the outside and core bedding to the center, the other is a large Nutritional plot in the center, planted with year round food sources (with whatever you decide) which doesn't get hunted, they are the "Safe Haven" food sources. The surrounding hunting plots are planted with food sources which are attractive in hunting season and those plots and trails leading to them get hunted. He is using the nutrional plot as the main attraction but hunting the trails leading to it which negates some of the benefit of trying to provide a safe feeding area. He is trying to compete against the large bean and corn field by providing something different but attractive at that time, which makes sense. I have to admit that I do not put my nutritional plot off limits to hunting and I have a couple transition plots coming into it that I hunt but the idea is that it is off limits to hunting same as a sanctuary. Whatever idea works for you is the one to go with or even combine ideas to find something that works for you.
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Great information guys. I was talking with whitetail institute representatives on the weekend from Vermont and they have a company set-up just for planting food plots in the Eastern States. They were saying that they get government funding to plant and redevelope wildlife food plots. There are busy in Maine doing these projects. He was saying that they usually come in and convert an old field for $1350 an acre, and that included fertilizer, lime and seeding, i thought that was a pretty good deal per acre to get established. TH
Is the landowner paying $1350.00 on top of the funding or is that without the funding added? It may be a bargain or not depending on what it costs the landowner.
Vermount Outdoor Forestry Consultants was the company and the guy said that was the price per acre total, i was a little surprized because i know my costs and that was a pretty good deal for the land owner. TH
Cheapest place for bulk fertilizer..... any info...
hi I'm planting a food plot this year , I live in burtt s corner n.b. I'm plowing the ground this spring getting it ready what should I plant first I'm doing it in strips and going to try different things but what should I start with its only a small plot about an acre first to try it,,it's my backfield surrounded by tress,,,for hunting in the call plus get deer to stay on my property
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