Seed classes and types
Food plot seed can categorized a couple different ways. First, they can be split into annuals and perennials. Second, they can be split by the primary planting season, spring or fall. Certain varieties can be planted at multiple times of the year and still create a successful plot. Others require planting at a specific time of the year to create a useful plot. Below we detail the core categories of food plot seeds and their common applications and planting times.
Brassicas are a class of food plot seed used for primarily for late season forage for whitetails. They are typically planted in late summer and are a common choice for fall hunting food plots. The class includes varieties such as turnips, radish, beets, and rapeseeds. It is usually planted as a blend containing multiple varieties, some of which may be non-brassicas. Planting time typically varies with the specific blend used. Pure brassica blend can be planted earlier in the year to allow more time for growth. Varieties containing oats or rye should be planted later to avoid the grasses getting too tough to be desirable. Brassicas are a common “no-till” selection, due to their ability to germinate and grow in poorer conditions.
Rye and Oats
These grain crops are a common choice of food plot seed for fall attractant plots. In most cases, they are planted late and remain green when eaten by deer, rather than be grown for grain consumption. They are an affordable seed variety and often available at the local farm co-op. They can be planted either as pure seed stands or in blends with brassicas and other varieties. They are also a common selection for “no-till” applications. There are a number of different varieties of both rye and oats.
Beans (and Peas)
Soybeans, as well as their relatives ‘lab lab’ and ‘Iron and Clay Cow Peas’, are great for both summer feeding and fall forage. The most common and easiest to grow option is roundup ready soybeans. Beans are a spring planting, after frost risk has passed. Usually planted either as a pure stand or a bean-only mix, beans are a staple of many food plot programs. They make for both great hunting and forage.
Like beans, corn is common in both the ag and plotting world. There are few fall attractants as targeted as corn. A spring planting, it is able to be planted in many soil types. Your local farm co-op can likely sell you seed and give you information on fertilizer and other requirements. The roundup ready trait make weed management a breeze.
Clover is the most common perennial food plot seed choice for whitetail deer. It is palatable at all times of year, and especially helpful in early spring when many other food sources aren’t available. There are a large number of clover types, most being perennials. Clover is typically planted in a perennial blend containing multiple clover varieties, and often contains alfalfa or chicory as well. It can be planted in either spring or fall. As a perennial, weed management is a very important aspect of a successful plot. Read up more in the weed management section. Clover is pH and soil type sensitive, so you should verify your soil quality is appropriate before planting.
Alfalfa shares many of the same benefits as clover. It can be planted in spring or fall, and often is planted as a pure stand. It is also found in blends with clover and chicory. Again, weed management is very important. A great option available is roundup ready alfalfa, which makes weed management very easy. Alfalfa is highly pH sensitive, generally needing at least 6.5. As a deep rooted perennial, it is a good food plot seed choice for sandy soil and dryer conditions.
Chicory is a perennial food plot seed with many features similar to lettuce. It is typically planted in a blend with clover or alfalfa. It can add some difficulties to weed management programs, as it is a broadleaf. Chicory can be planted in either spring or fall and is tolerant to many soil conditions.
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