Winter Rye, Brassica Overseeding, Fall Preparations

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.

These are some of my soybeans that are fenced in.  The dry weather is sending them into the yellowing phase early, but they still look pretty good and the pods are full.  The electric fence worked to a point so maybe we'll try to improve on this electric fencing method for next year (I already have some ideas!)

These are some of my soybeans that are fenced in. The dry weather is sending them into the yellowing phase early, but they still look pretty good and the pods are full. The electric fence worked to a point so maybe we’ll try to improve on this electric fencing method for next year (I already have some ideas!)  Once soybeans really start to yellow deer will lay off them as the pods and beans themselves ripen.  Then the deer will once again return to forage heavily on the pods until they are gone.

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.

This early in the year it is not too common to find soybeans yellowing.  These beans are hit hard by lack of water and deer browsing.  So, we broadcast brassicas and lightly disced overtop.

This early in the year it is not too common to find soybeans yellowing. These beans are hit hard by lack of water and deer browsing. So, we broadcast brassicas and lightly disced overtop.

Outside the fences, the beans are hammered so we overseeded one with brassicas and completely tilled another and seeded with winter rye and alfalfa.

These beans were not fenced.  Not only has the lack of rain hampered their growth, the deer have been eating them off pretty good.  What we did with these beans was to go in and broadcast brassicas right over the top of these beans and then we put the disc down lightly over top.  Brassicas are pretty good germinators so by lightly applying the disc we should get very good germination.  With some good rain you don't even have to disc them in.

These beans were not fenced. Not only has the lack of rain hampered their growth, the deer have been eating them off pretty good. What we did with these beans was to go in and broadcast brassicas right over the top. Then we put the disc down lightly over top. Brassicas are pretty good germinators so by lightly applying the disc we should get very good germination. With some good rain you don’t even have to disc them in.

 

When overseeding brassicas I just throw them into the beans as they start to thin out in late August from deer pressure or when they start to yellow also in late August or September.  With good rain there is no need to work them into the ground.  These beans are still in pretty good shape, have full pods, but I want to extend the life of this plot by broadcasting brassicas over the top.

When overseeding soybeans with brassicas I just throw them into the beans or broadcast with a small hand seeder as the beans start to thin out in late August from deer pressure or when they start to yellow also in late August or September. With good rain there is no need to work them into the ground. These beans are still in pretty good shape, have full pods, but I want to extend the life of this plot by broadcasting in brassicas right over the top.  This way when all the pods are consumed the new green plant growth from the brassicas will continue to provide a food source.

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.

I buy my winter rye direct from the farmer.  You can typically buy winter rye at a third the price right off the combine than you can at the feed store.  I paid about 8 dollars a bushel this year and plant at a rate of a bushel to 2 bushels to the acre.  I would plant this stuff at 5 times the cost...the fact that it is inexpensive is just another plus.

I buy my winter rye direct from the farmer. You can typically buy winter rye at a third the price right off the combine than you can at the feed store. I paid about 8 dollars a bushel this year and plant at a rate of a bushel to 2 bushels to the acre. I would plant this stuff at 5 times the cost…the fact that it is inexpensive is just another plus.

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.

This picture was taken last February during a brief thawing period.  The rye is still green and will stay green until spring when it will pick up where it stopped growing last fall.  At 15% protein level, it is an awesome winter food source.

This picture was taken last February during a brief thawing period. The rye is still green and will stay green until spring when it will pick up where it stopped growing last fall. At 15% protein level, it is an awesome winter food source.

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.

If you aren't getting mature buck pictures this time of year, don't worry just yet.  This year I have only a few pictures of what I would consider mature bucks...but I'm confident others including a few I'm watching for will show up soon.

If you aren’t getting mature buck pictures this time of year, don’t worry just yet. This year I have only a few pictures of what I would consider mature bucks…but I’m confident others including a few I’m watching for will show up soon.

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!!

This is a picture of the Broken Toe interior plot last winter before my son Forest and I tore into it.  I want to show another picture in a month or two to show you the difference on how it looks now...I just thought it would be better to wait until it greened up!

This is a picture of the Broken Toe interior plot last winter before my son Forest and I tore into it. I want to show another picture in a month or two to show you the difference on how it looks now…I just thought it would be better to wait until it greened 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.

Soybeans, brassicas, and rye!!!  This past weekend I overseeded these beans with brassicas and rye, disced the edges and sowed them also with just rye.  I now have a plot that has been a preferred food source from April until next spring.  Seriously, does it get any better?

Soybeans, brassicas, and rye!!! This past weekend I overseeded these beans with brassicas and rye, disced the edges and sowed them also with just rye. I now have a plot that has been a preferred food source from April until next spring. Seriously, does it get any better?

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.

 

7 thoughts on “Winter Rye, Brassica Overseeding, Fall Preparations

  1. Peppy, Thanks for another great artical. With all of your help I have really been able to get my food plots up and going and the deer are just hammering the beans. I was wondering if you could overseed a bean plot with the winter rye you talked about? I still have some beans left but im sure it wont be long and the they will all be gone. Again thanks for all of the help and hope you are doing well bud.

    Thanks Again
    Matt

    • Hey Matt, I added an update to the last post at the end. The answer to your question is yes but take a look at the update for another idea!!
      Nice to hear from you!
      Peppy

  2. That sounds like an excellent idea! I will be trying it in my bean plot this year. Its not too late to be doing this on my property in northern Wi is it? Again thanks for all the help it is really paying off. Starting to see some nice buck show up on camera and very consistantly too.

    Matt

    • I think you’ll be fine. If you’re worried about it though just put down the Rye. Farmers plant rye sometimes as late as of October.

  3. Peppy: What a great article on planting the edges with rye. How many acres do you have control of now. Hope things are going good with you.
    Rog

    • Hey Roger, Before I forget happy Holidays to you and your family also.

      When I see you some time we can talk about my farm in Iowa and the land I put hunters on. One of the best decisions I made buying that farm. I am glad you enjoy the information. I’m sure we’ll run into each other some day…
      Tom

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