Winter Rye and Brassicas are good choices for fall planted food plots. This is my third and final stage of food plot planting I do each year. So let’s get started!
This year we tried a new electric fencing technique and it worked up until out last visit to the farm. To set the stage for you, we have had very little rain in southern Iowa over the past 6 weeks or so….so little that our electric fence quit working. Electric fencing works by charging a wire and when an animal (or us by accident) touches the wire it completes an electrical circuit through its body to the ground and back to the fencer. The soil is so dry that we were able to grab the electric fence and not get a shock at all. Apparently the deer figured this out as well.
Bottom line…it worked but only to a point. Can we make adjustments to fine tune the idea for the remainder of this year and next? I’m still trying to figure this one out. We hedged our bets and did nothing with our fenced in food plots hoping we get some rain soon and the beans still looked pretty darn good inside the fences.
Outside the fences, the beans are hammered so we overseeded one with brassicas and completely tilled another and seeded with winter rye and alfalfa.
Next we seeded in some plots with winter rye. Winter rye is a favorite of mine for several reasons. First, it is a prolific germinator and will grow well in most conditions with very little care or fertilizer.
Second, for a green grain crop it has pretty good nutritional value reaching protein levels as high as 15%. Third, rye is a nutrient scavenger being able to pull nutrients from deep within the soil and is able to use nutrients that aren’t readily available to other species of plants. This is important because later next year when I till under the green rye I am able to put back as green manure all those nutrients. Lastly, winter rye is ultra cold weather tolerant being able to grow at temperatures down to 33 degrees and freeze proof down to 30 below zero. This means my winter rye when planted in early fall will green up and stay green providing a fall and winter food source all the way through till next spring.
A word on checking cameras this time of year…This time of year when the bucks are grouped up I have seen some drastically small summer ranges with older class bucks. Unless you own a section or two of land, there is a very good chance that those grouped bucks are there but just not spending their time on your farm. I’ve watched bucks spend almost all summer only 40 acres away from my hunting grounds in the past.
In a few weeks as the groups begin to break up and disperse more evenly you should start to get pictures of those bucks that you were hoping made it through to this year. I also think that mature buck’s core areas even get smaller as they age; not traveling very far from good security cover and a good source of food. It you don’t happen to have that one sweat spot they like this time of year you just aren’t going to get their picture. But if you’ve done your work with habitat and food plots they will show up!!
Finally, we sowed in our interior food plots. I will only use green plots in my interior food plots and over the years my favorite method is to seed down in early fall with a blend of winter rye, a more cold tolerant oat variety, and rape seed. I plant these in very late August or early September here in the Midwest. This past weekend was probably earlier than normal but with the dry conditions I don’t think I’ll get germination until our next rain and wanted to make sure the seed was in the ground.
UPDATE:8/31/13 I got a question about overseeding soybeans with winter rye….basically can you overseed soybeans with winter rye just like I do brassicas. The short answer is yes, but I’d like to propose another option. First, most grain food plots and even plots like clover will get pressure from the deer on the edges moving inward. It is not uncommon at all to lose the outside edges to deer pressure….so what I like to do is overseed the plot (whether it be soybeans, milo, corn, etc.) with brassicas in the middle. This can be done with winter rye as well.
Then what I do is disc under the edges and sow in my winter rye around the outside edges. This gives me a soybean plot for example surrounded by winter rye and inter-seeded with brassicas. As the last of the beans get eaten the winter rye is available around the edges and the brassicas will offer another selection for the deer herd. I overseed the brassicas in late August and then I can wait a couple weeks until maybe Sept. 10th-15th or so to seed down the rye. This works really good. If all you have is brassica seed or the rye seed you can do the same thing….overseed the center a little earlier and then seed down the edges a couple weeks later.