Iowa State probably does more research about growing corn than any other university. I have learned much about growing corn from their publications and staff. Iowa State’s Extension department publishes a great E newsletter titled Crop Management News.
The issue today does a great job of explaining how temperature and soil moisture availability impact the productivity of corn. As I’ve referenced frequently on recent episodes of GrowingDeer.tv, when growing conditions cause stress on forage or grain crops the critters are stressed also.
It is easier to monitor the impact of stress caused by drought on a corn crop. Researchers can simply sample many aspects of the crop on a daily basis. In fact, some of these factors (amount the leaves are twisted, tassel development, etc.) can be estimated from the comfort of a pickup.
It’s much more difficult to monitor deer. They are mobile and tend to be nocturnal. They don’t like to be held or measured. Capturing deer is not necessary to know that they are stressed when crops are not expressing their full potential. I’m not aware of an exact index that compares bushels of corn produced per acre that equates to inches of antler development per age class of bucks.
However when corn, soybean, alfalfa, etc., production is limited by harsh growing conditions, it is certain that deer won’t express their full potential. For example, today there was an Associated Press article posted on Fox News that quoted the Texas AgriLife Extension Service as reporting that pregnant does are having difficulty carrying fawns to term and other fawns are being born prematurely due to heat stress. Likewise the agricultural crops are very unproductive or a total failure in many parts of Texas. Tough growing conditions impact all living things!
That’s one reason I enjoy reading Crop Management News. It provides great information for growing quality food plots, and also provides a real-time index of the growing conditions for crops and deer in Iowa. In addition, the information is useful no matter where I wish to grow crops or deer!
Information is the most valuable tool for any profession. I hope this source of information helps you become a better deer manager.
Growing Deer together,