Last-minute food plots can be the key to a filled tag—but you need to know what to plant.
In most cases, annuals are best suited for last-minute food plots. Perennials are much more vulnerable to weeds, tend to produce less forage in harsher weather, and take longer to grow than annuals. Annuals are generally better equipped for colder temperatures and they are meant for bulk production in a short window of time.
When bow season is right around the corner and time is of the essence, these are five of the best options for a last-minute food plot:
Turnips, radishes, canola, rapeseed, and other brassicas are attractive because of one thing: glucose. The first hard frost causes a chemical reaction that encourages significant increases in glucose. This once-bitter plant suddenly becomes sugar-rich and deer hit it hard once that happens.
Planting: It’s always best to prepare the soil as best as possible, but brassicas can still grow with less-than-well-tilled soil. Plant no deeper than 1/4-inch and run a four-wheeler or truck over the plot to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
Nutritional Value: 35-38% protein
Oats are high in carbohydrates and draw deer when other plants won’t. Grains get tough as they get bigger and most grains are early-growth hotspots because of that. Oats also stay smaller longer, giving them a larger window for optimal consumption.
Planting: Oats need well-tilled soil, so don’t plant them if you don’t have the resources to work the ground well. Plant seeds approximately 1/2-inch deep. Pack once planted for good seed-to-soil contact.
Nutritional Value: 15-17% protein
Wheat is good, but doesn’t provide as much forage as most plants. Because of this, many hunters and land managers plant a blend of wheat and clover. Wheat also is a high-carb plant. Like oats, it is preferred in its early growth stages.
Planting: Wheat is easy to grow and a suitable choice for wet ground, but it will still grow in dryer conditions. Good seed-to-soil contact is necessary so working the ground is a must. Plant seeds one-inch deep and use a cultipacker to pack the ground after seeding.
Nutritional Value: 15-18% protein
4. Winter Peas
Easy to grow and quick to germinate, winter peas are a resilient, cool-season plant closely related to garden peas. It takes winter’s punch square on the chin and keeps chugging along. If given adequate time to grow, and given proper growing conditions, it may grow up to five feet in height.
Planting: This seed needs a well-prepared seed bed. Moist or dry conditions are acceptable for adequate growth. It can grow in clay soil but grows best in a loamy mix. Plant seeds no deeper than one inch and run over the food plot with a light cultipacker for good soil contact.
Nutritional Value: 20-30% protein
5. Winter Rye
Winter rye is the hardiest of all the cereal grains and will readily thrive in a wide range of soil types. Winter rye will germinate and grow at temperatures as low as 33 degrees and even resumes rapid growth in the spring once temperatures rise.
Planting: Winter rye accepts a wide range of soil. It also accepts a wide range of moisture levels. Furthermore, it doesn’t take a great pH level to keep it alive. Plant no deeper than one and then run over the food plot with a light cultipacker.
Nutritional Value: 14-17% protein
Don’t Plant Just Anything
The last thing you want to do is plant any old seed. Don’t waste your money on low-return food sources. Choose a food plot option that will benefit your deer herd and your hunting.
To get an even higher return, use H-G Food Plot when preparing the ground. Simply add a one-pound bag of H-G Food Plot per 150 square feet and then rake or till H-G Food Plot into the soil at a depth of four to six inches.
H-G Food Plot will give you the best bang for your buck! Check out our products to learn more.
Read more: How to Plant a Last-Minute Food Plot