Cool Season Food Plots

By GrowingDeer,

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My family owns 110 acres in east central IL, Iroquois county.  We are totally surrounded by agricultural fields and CRP that is owned by a neighbor.  We would like to plant a couple of small food plots on our land but have limited area to do so.  I would say 95% of our land is what we would call bottom ground.  The remaining five percent has some small oaks growing on it.  Is there something that can be planted late season in the bottom ground to help hold deer on our property?  We have seen a few turkeys on our property too, but this is the first season in 16 years that we have.

Thank you for any information you may have.



For small, cool season forage crops I rely heavily on winter wheat and brassicas.  Winter wheat is a hardy cool season small grain that performs well if fertilized/limed properly.  Brassicas are good as they typically are not foraged upon until after a hard frost allowing them to grow a bunch of tonnage before the deer herd starts to eat them.  Both require being planted at least 45-50 days before the first average frost date.  Rye grain (absolutely not rye grass) is also an option as it can be planted slightly later because it is an excellent nitrogen scavenger and can grow during temperatures 12 degrees cooler than winter wheat.

Lastly, depending on the actual food plot size Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans are my first bet. I like them because they produce forage all summer while producing tons of grain forage (often tons more than typical cool season forage crops). However, their grain production depends largely on how heavily they are hit by the deer throughout the summer. If there are gads of deer in the area, a small plot of soybeans might get over browsed unless protected by a fence (I use the Hot Zone Deer Exclosure System). I’d plant Eagle Seed forage soybeans the first year and see what happens. The worst case scenario is that the beans will be totally consumed, but the plot will be prepared for the cool season planting!

Growing Deer together,