What should I plant in a mostly shaded area in central Wisconsin?

By Grant Woods,

  Filed under:

← Grant's AnswersFood Plots
I recently purchased a small hunting parcel in central Wisconsin.The land is pretty much solid oak trees.I was wondering what would be the best food source to plant on a small area with limited light.A friend of mine suggested Buck Oats because of the large populations of deer in the area.He said he had tried other things but the deer would wipe them out before they matured.


Most forage crops do best when they receive full sunlight.  This is especially true with the small grains like oats.  In addition oats mature from the blade stage (looks like a blade of grass) to the stem stage (a rounded stem and grows rapidly).  Deer don’t prefer oats or any of the small grains once they mature to the stem stage.  

Clover does better when grown in partial shade than small grains.  In addition, clover is remains more productive when being browsed heavily than small grains.  Given the plot will be partially shaded and relatively small I recommend you do a soil test and tell the lab you wish to plant cover, add the appropriate nutrients, and plant clover. 

Clover will normally offer quality forage for many more months throughout the year than small grains. If you establish the clover during the fall I do suggest using a cover crop of wheat or oats with the clover.

Enjoy creation,


February 12, 2016