Is there a rule of thumb for what percentage of a property should be planted in soybeans to supply ample quality forage to a deer herd?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Enjoy your videos very much!

As you know I’ve been planting eagle seed soybeans for some time at my place in Alabama. I only plant a couple of fields totaling about 5 acres. Either you plant a lot more acreage than I do since your episode videos that show your fields that are not be eaten up like mine.

Attached is a couple pictures of my grown soybeans this year. I have to protect them with the electric fence for about 3 months to grow maximum forage, then I take it down so they can eat them and it only takes them about 2 months for the deer to consume just about every leaf. That’s my goal, to feed them the forage as a supplement mid summer to early fall when they’re growing for hopefully more added nutrition.

What would you recommend if anything to improve for the next step? Is there a rule of thumb for acres of soybeans planted as a percent of the total property?
I could plant more fields, but current only have 2 electric fence sets. Maybe if I plant more scattered fields they all won’t all be eaten up before they can mature…
Should I try to Whitetail Thicket variety you mention on some of your recent episodes?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Keith Swilley


It appears your plots did very well!  

There are many variables that determine what percentage of a property should be established in food plots to provide ample quality forage for the local deer population.  Some of these variables include growing conditions (there’s often a huge difference in the tonnage produced during a year with ample rain compared to a drought), the number of deer (the number of deer per square mile can vary drastically from location to location), and the availability of alternate food sources (location being all timber compared to commercial soybean farms, etc.).

The best rule of thumb is to continue establishing quality food sources until there’s plenty of food available during the late summer and late winter (the two traditional stress periods for deer).   

There are about 60 acres of food plots out of 2,000 acres of land at The Proving Grounds.  During years with good growing conditions, there is ample quality forage during both traditional stress periods. However, there’s not near enough quality forage during drought conditions.  This year I will try to remove two does per 100 acres to reduce the number of deer and establish some additional food plots.  Due to all the variables, finding a balance between the amount of quality forage and number of deer is a constant balancing act.

Enjoy creation,