It has been and continues to be very harsh growing conditions at The Proving Grounds. This spring the conditions literally changed from colder and wetter than normal to hotter and drier than normal. That pattern hasn’t changed. Plants don’t grow as much and are less nutritious when they are stressed due to not having enough water. At the Proving Grounds we are experiencing a double whammy with the above normal temperatures. This causes stress in the critters that consume the plants.
The results of this stress are shown by less than average antler development, less and lower quality milk production, and therefore smaller and slower developing fawns. The amount of reduction in antler development is related to the severity of stress the plants are experiencing.
There are some practices deer managers can do to reduce the stress caused by lack of rainfall. The most practical is to use soil moisture conservation practices when establishing food plots such as reduced tillage or no-till. The soil at my place is extremely gravely and conserving soil moisture is critical to producing healthy plants and deer. Disking plots is rarely the best practice – and never the best practice at my place because it allows moisture in the soil to rapidly evaporate.
Establishing food plot crops as soon as the conditions (soil temperature and moisture) will allow during the spring is another practice that can offset stress caused by drought. Soil moisture evaporates much faster when the daytime temperature is higher. If the crops have matured enough to shade the ground, there will be much less moisture evaporated when daytime temperatures increase. This is another reason to plant warm season food plot crops as soon as conditions permit during the spring.
Healthy food plots are a great tool to maintain a healthy deer herd. To allow the deer at your Proving Grounds to express most of their potential, start by allowing the forage crops to express their potential.
Growing Deer together,