When do I open my food plot fence?

By GrowingDeer,

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Dear Grant,

My question is in regards to the Eagle Seed forage soybeans.  I am considering planting some forage soybeans next season.  I have two destination food plots that are approximately ¾ to 1 acre in size.  However, in my past experience with either corn or soybeans, there has been immense browsing pressure from deer and turkeys during the early development stage of my plantings.  This has ultimately disrupted the growth of the plots and my ability to establish a good stand.  This coming year I plan to employ the two-stage fencing system that you discuss, in order to increase my ability to establish those plots.

After employing the fence, how long would you leave the fence in operation before allowing the deer to enter the plot?  I know that the forage soybeans are designed to provide forage through the summer months via their leaves, and then of course the added late season forage.  However, when should you start to allow that browsing pressure to happen, in order to not stunt the growth significantly?  Also, do you completely remove the fencing at The Proving Grounds, or just allow one area of entrance, leaving the remaining fence in operation?

What are your thoughts on the size of my food plots for growing forage soybeans?  I know you discuss planting soybeans and corn in large plots.  Unfortunately, my property is mostly hardwoods.  Without incurring significant clearing costs, I may be able to expand some of my plots to 1 1/2 acres.  Do you think with the implementation of the food plot protection my plots would be large enough?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Rob (Michigan)


I think a fencing system is a tremendous tool that allows deer managers to provide quality nutritional forage such as Eagle Seeds forage soybeans.  If providing forage throughout the summer and fall is the goal I would open the fence about four to six weeks (depending on growing conditions) after they germinate.  This will give the soybeans time to completely shade the ground after your second glyphosate application (when using Roundup Ready soybeans).  At this point their roots will be well developed and if the crop was planted fairly early in the planting season over 5 months of leaf foraging time.  If your desire is to provide maximum grain production for fall forage I would leave the fence shut all summer.  Factors affecting these decisions are the number of deer in the local herd and the amount of food resources available in the area.

I would just open a gate in the fence and leave the rest of the fence hot.  This way come hunting season you know where the herd is entering and leaving the plot.  The important aspect is to never leave the fence in place without electricity running to it or the deer will learn they can safely jump over it.

To allow deer to express their full potential I like to provide more forage than the herd can eat, so if a couple more acres are available I recommend adding them to your food plot program.

Growing Deer together,