Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
The deer aren't eating my Brassicas. What's up?
Deer react differently to this plant in different areas. The deer not hitting it right away has happened to me on several properties that I oversee and is typical of a first year planting it. The first year I planted brassicas here on my home property in MN it wasn’t until after Christmas until they started eating them, which like I say, is typical of a first year with this plant. Some people call it a “learning curve” - Momma doe has taught her offspring for years, and they teach their offspring and so on…to feed on acorns this time of year, alfalfa this time of year, corn this time of year, etc. Now, you introduce a plant they have never seen before that if they have tried it up until the starches convert to sugar it would have been bitter. Once they learn what this is, expect consumption to happen earlier each year. Now on my home property, they will start to eat my brassicas as early as September.
If you live in an area that does not get cold enough temperatures to turn the brassicas palatable to the deer, we seem to have mixed results. If you live in an area where you get a good, hard freeze during the hunting season, I’ve never seen a better magnet for deer.
I planted your Clover Plus. Should I mow it?
I would suggest mowing your Clover Plus several times throughout the season. Mowing helps to cut down on broadleaf weeds and unwanted grasses and it promotes new, more palatable growth on your clover and chicory. I mow my Clover Plus fields at least four times during the growing season. During the cooler parts of the growing season white clovers like to be mowed fairly short. Persistence is highest in cultivars that produce the most stolons (a stem that grows horizontally along the ground surface and forms roots at the nodes). When mowed and managed properly, white clover spreads by creating roots at its nodes (a joint on a plant stem where a leaf attaches). This process creates what are called daughter plants. These daughter plants replace the original seedlings within a few years.
Do not mow any clover too often, or too short during the hot dry weather during the peak of summer. You should also give it some fertilizer. A blend with no nitrogen is recommended, like about 250 pounds of 0-20-20 per acre each year. I would also suggest treating it with an herbicide called Poast about 4 or 5 days after mowing the field. Poast is a grass specific (only kills grass) herbicide. I hope this helps.
I've got weeds in my Premium Perennial. Should I mow it?
Premium Perennial is a name that can fool you because 30% of the blend is actually made up of “annuals.” It is a blend of about 30% annual brassicas mixed with 70% perennial clover and chicory. Premium Perennial is a great blend for certain situations; If you have limited acreage to devote to food plots, Premium Perennial gives you the benefits of both, the “tonnage producing, highly attractive annuals” and the “nutritious, dependable, low-maintenance perennials.” Premium Perennial is also a great blend if you are trying to establish a perennial clover and chicory plot in a dry area. The big, leafy, annual brassicas shoot up fast and shade the top soil to conserve moisture which is the key determinant for success with getting perennials started.
On the properties that I oversee, I honestly do not plant a lot of Premium Perennial because I like to care for my perennials separately from my annuals. One way of caring for my perennials is mowing them. In Premium Perennial I don’t want to mow my brassicas down. Brassicas are very browse tolerant and will withstand mowing as long as you don’t chop them too short. However, one of the great characteristics of the brassica is it is a great tonnage provider. If you mow it, you are defeating that purpose. I would say if you want the clover and chicory to be the "magnet" and turn out better, (typically draws from bow opener through November) then yes, I would mow it. If you want the brassicas to attract, (typically from Gun season on into the winter) then no, I wouldn't mow.
Rather then planting Premium Perennial I like to plant Maximum (all annual brassicas) separate from my Clover Plus (all perennial New Zealand red and white clover and chicory) It makes it easier to care for the specific types of plants individually.
How do I plant a food plot? What steps do I need to perform to grow food for deer?
With any deer forage, proper preparation is a key to beautiful, lush plots. The first step is to do a soil analysis. A very fast, easy, inexpensive way to do this is our soil test.
If you need to raise the pH, lime to recommendations. As opposed to the NPK in your typical fertilizer that can be spread on top of the soil, lime must be worked into the soil.
Next, wait until your weeds are growing vigorously, usually daytime highs in the 70s, and kill them all with Roundup® or your favorite post-emergent herbicide.
Then, wait a week after your herbicide application and work your seedbed by disking or tilling. It depends upon the equipment that you have as to how you prepare your seedbed. Ideally, you would want to have a moist, firm, level seedbed.
Then plant your seeds by broadcasting or drilling. Common mistakes with seeds as small as clover, chicory or brassica is putting it on too thick and covering it up too deep. Stick to the recommended coverage rates. And, if you've prepared the seed bed properly you shouldn't have to cover the seeds at all. Small seeds such as clover, brassica, or chicory only need to make contact with the soil. If you cover it any more than 1/4 inch, you are wasting seed. Larger seeds such as corn or peas can be covered deeper. The ultimate for these small seed blends would be if you have a cultipacker, roller or a chain-link fence type drag to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
At some point along the way you'll also want to add some food (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium - NPK) in the form of fertilizer. Your soil analysis will tell you exactly what you need to add. Without knowing the results from your soil analysis, for many blends around 300 - 350 pounds of 10-10-10 per acre typically works great. If you are planting Clover Plus or other legumes, remember that legumes produce their own Nitrogen so the same amount of a blend like 0-20-20 will typically work better. For best results fertilize according to your soil test results. Next, pray for rain and for Mother Nature to treat you right. Even if you do everything correct, too much or not enough rain, severe temperatures or high winds can take their toll.
Will food plots help me to see more and bigger bucks on my property?
The answer is yes, BUT…
Food plots are going to decrease the home range size of each animal on your property and increase your property's carrying capacity. However, if you want to notice a significant increase in the amount and size of the animals on your property you should combine habitat manipulation, woods work and selective harvest along with planting food plots.
If you provide more food, but don't give them more "housing" then your impact probably won't be what you expect. A whitetail's world exists from six feet high to the ground. If you can stand on the ground in your hunting area and see for 80 yards in two or three directions, chances are your property is not holding many deer. You can plant fast growing plants that can help create bedding areas or do woods work to create the edges and diversity that whitetail like. A chainsaw is a whitetail's "best friend."
Some basic management philosophies should also be practiced. For there to be a trophy buck, a young buck must be allowed to grow old enough to sport trophy caliber head gear. On the properties that I manage we stick to harvesting three year old bucks or older. Not all the bucks that we harvest are going to make Pope & Young, but they are still a challenge to hunt and we consider an adult buck over the age of three to be a trophy.
If you want to see more and bigger bucks, and larger body weights, you probably also need to thin your doe population out a bit. A given piece of land will hold and sustain X amount of deer. Because of the territorial tendencies of whitetail and the way that they disperse from the areas where they were born, a large matriarchal society may develop over time. Let’s say that a doe has one buck-fawn and one doe-fawn. After the fawn's first year, which is spent with the doe, instincts instill an urge in the buck to go seek out a territory a fair distance away from his mother. The doe also helps this by having her own instinct to drive her male offspring away. On the other hand, the doe-yearling will usually take up a territory right next to, and possibly intertwined with the doe's home range. Some say that the whole arrangement is Mother Nature's way to prevent inbreeding. If you don’t harvest some of the does, over time you get a big doe matriarchal society that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. When a year old buck disperses from the area where he was born and goes off searching for where he will take root and spend the rest of his life, when he comes across your property he may not be able to stay because all of those X's are filled by that large doe group. To see more and bigger bucks, balancing the ratio is very important.
One should strive for a happy medium. An equalized buck to doe ratio and a balanced age structure is what we try to achieve. If you think you see too many does in your hunting area, I would suggest targeting a few of the older, more dominant does in that herd. You can recognize these deer in several ways. Their bodies are filled out more than younger does, they'll usually have longer noses and just look older, and you can see they act dominant around the other deer. Also, in areas where standard nutrition levels are available, they will almost always have two or more fawns.
What should I plant?
It’s an important question, but one that should be answered by the land manager themselves.
It depends on your management goals as to what would be the best thing to plant. Do you want to attract deer? Do you want to grow bigger antlers and healthier deer, or, both? On the properties that I manage throughout the Country, I have very good luck with all of BioLogic’s blends; Premium Perennial, Clover Plus, Maximum, Full Draw, Green Patch Plus, and Hot Spot. Each provides a different aspect towards my management goals.
Because of their needs changing so often during the season, I never "put all my eggs in one basket". I classify my plots into two categories, "feeding plots" and "hunting plots". My feeding plots are typically relatively large and I don’t hunt these plots. My goal is to provide as much nutrition to as many deer as possible and I want them to feel comfortable about accessing this nutrition whenever they want. A good portion of these feeding plots is often made up of perennials (Clover Plus is my favorite), however, there are nutritional benefits to both annuals and perennials so give them a variety.
In my "hunting plots" my goal is to draw them in so I can kill them, or to use it as a magnet so that I can intercept them on the way to the plot. In these plots, I try and "leave the table set" for them all through the season. If you just plant one thing in a specific plot you are limiting the time that you are going to be able to use it for a magnet. I will probably divide a specific hunting plot up into 4 to 6 sections, depending upon how large the plot is. I will usually plant Clover Plus in one of the spots, one of our blends that contain brassica cultivars in one (usually Maximum but possibly Premium Perennial) and one area I’ll usually save and do a fall planting of one of our blends that contain cereal grains, like Outfitter's Blend or Trophy Oats. By planting this variety I’ve given them something that is going to keep them coming to this spot from the opening of bow season to long into the winter.
One thing to note is that you must have adequate acreage to do this tactic justice. For instance if you have only a ¼ acre plot, you are probably better off planting just one blend. Otherwise, there’s not going to be enough of any one cultivar to keep them coming back. They’ll wipe you out too soon.
Why do you need a neutral pH? Or, can you explain the importance of pH?
The reason you want a neutral pH is; with a low pH the nutrients are bound in the soil. With a low pH the plants cannot pull the nutrients out of the soil. It's amazing how much of the nutrients or for that matter your fertilizer, goes to waste at low pH levels. pH is measured on what is called a logarithmic scale. The difference between 6.0 and 7.0 isn't 1, it's actually 10. And the difference 5.0 and 7.0 isn’t 2 or 20 it's actually 100. So you can see why having a neutral soil is important.
The good thing is, lime is cheap - usually $20 to $30 per ton delivered to your location. If you can't get a lime truck back to the plots then you've got some work to do. The bad thing about lime, as opposed to your Nitrogen, Phosphorus or Potassium (NPK), is lime is stationary in the soil so it needs to be worked into the soil. The other negative thing is it typically takes months for it to bring up the pH to where you want it. So get the lime on and worked in as soon as possible. Think of it as an on-going project.
Don't worry, it doesn't mean you can't have a food plot. Add what you can for lime now and add more next year until you build it up to close to a neutral 7.0. Knowing that you need to work lime into the soil, you shouldn't start planting perennials until you build up the pH. Who wants to disk under their perennials after one year to work in more lime? Good annuals that will do well in a lower pH (more acidic soil) are Full Draw, Hot Spot, Green Patch Plus and Outfitter’s Blend. But after you achieve close to the 7.0 you can plant anything and you'll be amazed at the results.
Help me understand the difference in annuals & perennials and the benefits of each.
An annual completes its entire life cycle in a single season and usually dies after the first frost. This includes annuals like corn, brassicas, wheat, oats, peas and beans. Perennials, on the other hand, live from year to year. They might die down during the winter but their roots remain active and they will reappear next spring. Some of the best perennials included in BioLogic™ blends are clover, chicory and alfalfa. Some plants come in both annual and perennial varieties like clover.
There are good nutritional and attraction qualities to both annuals and perennials. For instance, if you are just planting annuals you are missing out on the first part of antler genesis and fawn rearing by the time your annuals become palatable. For this one reason alone, it is very important to plant both annuals and perennials.
On the other hand, if you just plant perennials you are missing out on some of the best hunting season attraction and tonnage providers available. Take brassicas, for example. BioLogic brassicas average 34% to 38% crude protein and a recent study done by our Canadian research team shows a yield of 30 tons per acre!
Annuals can be easier to establish and can produce specific attraction power at targeted time windows. Hot Spot requires minimal preparation and will grow almost anywhere and it will withstand more acidic soils then most perennials would like. Annual blends like Green Patch Plus and Full Draw can be used to provide harvest opportunities at specific times. These two blends planted in August through October (depending on your location north to south) are two of the best early season bow magnets that I have ever used. The wheat, oats and annual clovers in these blends are most palatable from germination to about five weeks after. If you get a rain right after planting you can hunt over Green Patch or Full Draw ten days later. Both blends also contain brassicas which will also serve you long into the hunting season.
Do I really need to do a soil test?
Let me answer by asking back, "do you like to waste money?" Sure, you can just go for it and hope for the best, but why take the chance when a soil test is so easy and inexpensive? The cheapest, fastest test that I’ve ever used can be found here. To have beautiful, lush plots that your deer will crave you need to know what you are contending with in your soil. You need to know the soil’s pH and the other nutrients that are present so you know what to add for success.
You recommend 40 lbs. of Green Patch per acre. What happens if I plant more?
A very common mistake in planting food plots, regardless of the blend, is using too much seed. For some reason we seem to think “the more the better.” All you do by putting on more is waste money and make difficult growing conditions for your plants. If you plant according to directions on your bag, the plants will receive the proper amount of nutrients and space to flourish. You don’t want a bunch of crowded, nutrient starved plants; you want a plot that will achieve its full potential. I use my laser range finder and measure out exactly how much of the chosen blend that I will need. If using a broadcaster, my goal is to cover the entire area and still have seed left in the broadcaster. Then, I will zigzag back over the plot in a different direction until all the seed is gone. This way I’ve ensured I’ve covered the plot properly and I won’t be wasting seed or money.
What's the best way for me to try BioLogic to see if my deer like it?
There are two tactics that I would recommend. One, simply try our small 1/4 acre bags to see what works for you. Otherwise, you could mix some of our new BioLogic Plot Performance Additives right in with your rye grass. We have Plot Performance Additives in Alfalfa, Brassica, Chicory and AlfaClover. With either of these two suggestions you only have a small investment to see if BioLogic will work for you.
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