*Discussion*: Winter food source - Corn vs. Brassicas

Discussion in 'Food Plots & Habitat Improvement' started by MnMoose, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Posts:
    4,005
    Likes Received:
    281
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    West Central MN
    Following suit of the Corn vs Beans discussion, I have another topic I think is worth talking about. With the limited number of acres available for planting foodplots, we all want the most buck for our bag;)

    If your goal is to hold deer on your property over winter, or even attract the neighbors deer to your property, what is going to be your choice to feed the herd throughout the winter? Assume the deer will not necessarily stay on your property without planting a foodplot. Which crop, corn or brassicas - or any crop, would you plant and why?
     
  2. dnoodles

    dnoodles Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Posts:
    9,316
    Likes Received:
    10,955
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Location:
    People's Republic of IL
    I had this debate with my buddy last week (it's his land.)
    I guess it depends on your area and acreage, but we've only got 40 acres to work with and its all woods except for what we've cleared (appx 5 acres total over 3 plots.)

    The way I'm thinking, we are never going to compete with the larger ag fields in our area for quantity of food- so we must provide either variety or better quality. That's why we are going to go with brassicas. Plus, there's no competition for brassicas- far as I know know only deer eat them from frozen ground (maybe hogs and bears but we have neither.) If we plant corn we'll be feeding lots of other critters- and most of it will be gone before the snow flies.
     
  3. Rick James

    Rick James Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Posts:
    5,078
    Likes Received:
    870
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Location:
    N. Illinois
    Half brassica (I prefer daikon radishes), half winter wheat or rye (doesn't matter which).

    Flip sides every year.
     
  4. copperhead

    copperhead Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    Posts:
    3,477
    Likes Received:
    700
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Apex, North Carolina
    Good topic. Im interested in what other have to say as well. I planted food plots this year and did include some brassicas but I think I might might some adjustments this year. The dairy farmers plant rye once they cut the corn. The deer always seem to flock to the rye in the late season and winter. The good news there though is that they have plenty to eat as well till its gets sprayed in spring to make way for the corn again. So I might just add a mix of winter wheat and rye to the fall planting and overseeing vice the brassicas.

    In regards to feed. During the off season months when legal I do try to provide a mix of corn and alfalfa pellets just to help make sure they make it through the winter without too much struggle. I occasionally add soybeans or oats to the mix as well. Its really determined by what I can get my hands on. I just wonder if I am wasting my time doing this, especially since probably 50% goes to feeding the coons as well.
     
  5. dnoodles

    dnoodles Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Posts:
    9,316
    Likes Received:
    10,955
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Location:
    People's Republic of IL
    Maybe I'm ignorant, but just how much do they struggle during winters down in NC? Forecast here for Thursday is a high of 4*. That's a struggle!
     
  6. copperhead

    copperhead Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    Posts:
    3,477
    Likes Received:
    700
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Apex, North Carolina

    Fair question. It is definitely is not consistently as cold here as in Ill but around January things to browse on do start to get sparse. As food gets sparse that leads to deer starting to wander. If we have some decent bucks hanging around and can minimize that wandering looking for browse that in theory decreases the chance that they move on or get hit by a car, etc.. They definitely won't go into starvation mode but thats another topic for another thread :tu:
     
  7. No.6Hunter

    No.6Hunter Die Hard Bowhunter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Posts:
    2,724
    Likes Received:
    219
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Murder Mitten
    Brassicas, They eat the tops earlier in the season then once the frost comes they dig up the rest in our 1 acre plot, almost works out like 2 acres
     
  8. remmett70

    remmett70 Die Hard Bowhunter

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2015
    Posts:
    2,421
    Likes Received:
    394
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Rothschild, WI
    Its my understanding that in colder snowy climates corn is not a good food source for deer in the winter. I would go with radishes and winter wheat and rye. And if trying to keep deer on your land, put those food sources close to bedding or if possible, make a plot that has cover to be bedding and food sources..

    I walk around the property quite a few times over the winter following different trails to see where the deer are moving and why. I constantly find beds and they have been eaten down to the frozen dirt. It is clear to me that the deer just laid there and ate until there was nothing left it could reach to eat without getting up. If what they are eating while bedded is more nutritious, they will not have to leave to get it elsewhere.

    This is what I'm trying to create for the deer, rather than clearings with plots, I'm trying to leave it as natural as possible while providing more nutritious eats so the deer feel like they are still in the cover of the woods.
     
  9. SkyThumper

    SkyThumper Newb

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2016
    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    1
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morehead City N.C
    Winter greens are Gold !! Deer are browsers by nature.. they like a varied diet and tend to move around while feeding. Most any winter green crop fertilized and lush will attract them. I like ether a mixture within a field ( shotgun approach) of a few different crops or strip planting with various greens. Fertilize and be sure to use trace or micro nutrients to the crop will insure they get those important nutrients needed for optimal antler growth !


    Sent from my iPhone using Bowhunting.com Forums
     
  10. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Posts:
    4,005
    Likes Received:
    281
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    West Central MN
    In our larger Ag fields, the food is virtually gone each fall once the fields get turned under. That is why I wouldn't be afraid to plant corn with ag corn surrounding the property, because I know come november, those fields will be black and the deer will be used to eating corn.

    I think the best option would be soybeans, but I would need over 10 acres of beans to hopefully make it to January. Im guessing no of us have that option.
     
  11. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Posts:
    4,005
    Likes Received:
    281
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    West Central MN
    Deer can eat corn in any climate, and they actually make great use of the carbs in late season when recovering from the rut and staying warm, they just need to adjust to eating corn slowly since they need to build up the specific bacteria in their digestive tract to digest the corn. The problem comes in the brutal winters of the north when deer are fed corn abruptly with no time to adjust. They fill their stomachs with corn that they can't digest and become malnourished and eventually die if the problem continues.

    With a foodplot, this isn't an issue since deer have time to adjust to the corn in their diet.
     
  12. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Posts:
    4,005
    Likes Received:
    281
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    West Central MN
    Here is my thought process;

    Corn is relatively easy to plant and establish, stand taller than most years snowfall, keeping the food source above the snow and easy access. 100bu/acre corn is 3 tons/acre - a decent amount of food. High in carbs which is helpful in the late season, attractive food source and serves as cover.

    Brassicas provide a great food source throughout the year, but in our experience it is more difficult to get a good stand year in and year out. Dual food source with greens and bulbs. Late season food quantity can range widely depending on the stand and browsing pressure, and whether the bulbs were able to grow. Late season food source is below the snow, making deer dig for it. I know they will but would they prefer corn?

    Anyone have and rough statistics for the number of acres in a certain crop they planted, and the average number of deer using the plot over the winter? Did you have enough food in the plot to last the winter?


    Has anyone ever had excess in their food plots? I know we have only had excess once when my uncle couldnt get in to a 4 acre field in the spring to plant his beans so we planted 4 acres of brassicas and there was excess "matter" in the spring, but I don't know if it was something the deer would eat either way. It sure didn't look appetizing to me in March.
     
  13. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Posts:
    4,005
    Likes Received:
    281
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    West Central MN
    Do the deer browse through all the snow to get the WW or WR? and is their enough forage with the WW or WR to make it through the winter or would corn make it better?
     
  14. dnoodles

    dnoodles Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2012
    Posts:
    9,316
    Likes Received:
    10,955
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Location:
    People's Republic of IL
    True, but we look at it (planting brassicas) as a duel threat- variety to compete with Big Ag in early/mid season; and longevity into late season. Just our thought process; maybe corn would be better but I worry the coons, turkeys, cranes, skunks, and squirrels would destroy half of it before the deer needed to rely on it.
     
  15. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Posts:
    4,005
    Likes Received:
    281
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    West Central MN
    Which is one of the down sides to corn for sure...
     
  16. Rick James

    Rick James Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Posts:
    5,078
    Likes Received:
    870
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Location:
    N. Illinois
    Winter wheat and/or rye will get eaten till it's gone. It won't produce the same forage per acre as the brassica, but it will also put everything back into the soil that the brassica takes out. That's why I suggested to do half in each and flip sides every year. It's going to do the same thing that a farmer does when rotating beans/corn every year so you can continue to have really good brassica yield and avoid having blight and other diseases. You can't just put brassica or corn in the same spot every year and expect to have a great plot.

    This is the only way I know of to have brassica in the same plot every year and get great results. Ideally, brassica will get eaten first and be preferred but they will eat the wheat/rye as well and it will allow you to keep putting brassica in the same plot every year.

     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
  17. Skywalker

    Skywalker Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Posts:
    6,850
    Likes Received:
    806
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Location:
    NW Missouri
    For me, it's corn hands down if those are the choices. I have planted brassicas for 4 seasons and my deer just don't even bother with them. Ag fields are usually picked by the first week or so of November around here, and the equipment is very efficient these days. There's nothing I can plant that will attract the deer away from the plentiful ag fields of corn and soybeans during the early season. I'm looking to gain that advantage of having the best available food source once the ag is gone.
     
  18. elkguide

    elkguide Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Posts:
    6,177
    Likes Received:
    6,180
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Vermont
    We go through this every year.... ways to keep deer on our property in the winter and even late fall. We have 350 acres with about250 being crop land and the rest wood lots with a few food plots in the woods. Once the crops have gone by or have been harvested, the deer seem to have a tendency to head to the swamps and mountainous areas and begin to switch over to browse as their food source. We have planted brassicas, clover, corn, winter wheat, winter rye and soybeans and each one is utilized some during the early fall, along with the similar agricultural crops, it seems that the deer still seem to leave our property. We have also done several different logging operations done with the cuts being done with deer habitat as the goal.

    We continue to plant every year and continue to hope for the best.
     
  19. Westfinger

    Westfinger Die Hard Bowhunter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2014
    Posts:
    2,255
    Likes Received:
    4,490
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Ohio
    This was my first attempt at planting food plots. Plots did ok considering there was very little rain. Only down side is the deer have payed very little attention to the mostly brassica plots. Unless they start tearing them up I'm not going to bother planting them next year.
     
  20. Rick James

    Rick James Grizzled Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Posts:
    5,078
    Likes Received:
    870
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Location:
    N. Illinois
    How much pressure do your deer receive?

    I can tell you from spending some time on what I consider absolute top end properties in IL, they are doing all the food stuff you are doing but in addition there is VERY little pressure. They are staying out until conditions are perfect, and are only hunting spots late season where there is 0% risk of educating deer on the way in, while sitting, and on the way out.

    How many hunters are on your 300+ acres?


     

Share This Page