Food Plots in Missouri

Question: I live in northern Missouri and own 420 acres of land in an area known for good deer hunting and a good number of big whitetail bucks. We also have a lot of does. Instead of feeding corn or protein feeding or planting clover, I decided to make several small food plots and plant mostly soybeans because they are nutrient rich and they are high in protein. I also planted about 30% of my plots with smaller rape and about 10% buck wheat to see how that would would work out.

I am hoping that these food plots will help supplement the whitetail deer in my area of Missouri and improve overall antler quality and hold deer on the property. My question is whether or not this food plot mix is a good choice, and are there things that I could plant that are better for whitetail? We are really interested in deer management. Thanks for any advice.

Food Plots in Missouri

Response: Okay, it sounds like you have started with a pretty good mix of plants, but since you say that there are a lot of deer in your area, I would be very interested to find out how the soybeans perform in your deer food plots. The reason is because soybeans are very susceptible to over-browsing by whitetail deer. I think the buckwheat is a good idea. Buckwheat seed produces an abundance of seed that appeals to a variety of wildlife. It is a warm season annual that works great as a food plot. I suspect it will perform great since it grows well in almost any soil.

I’ assuming that the rape that you planted was dwarf rape since you said it was smaller. This plant is more suited to fall and winter food plots. Whitetail deer will not use this plant at all until after the first frost. That being said, the plant will not help deer on your property during the summer. Deer simply will not touch it as it is unpalatable to them. This plant should only be planted to winter food plots. From the web:

“Dwarf Essex rape produces a excellent economical fall and winter food plot. Planted at 5-15 pounds per acre, rape is great for plowed ground forage for wildlife or livesock. Rape can also be overseeded in existing spring and summer food plots as they begin to decline in the early fall. After overseeding a close mowing and fertilizer application is all that is needed to give the rape plants what they need to thrive.

Forage produced can contain 18-20% crude protein. Good cold toleance make harvesting or grazing late into the fall and winter an option. Rape is also commonly called colpa, colsa, colerape, tori, and chou oleifere and is a cool season annual plant similar to turnip and rutabaga.”

My suggestion for your area would be to look into more perennials for your Missouri food plots. I suspect your soybeans will get hammered right off the bat and will not recover. The rape will not be used, and your buckwheat will probably suffer after all of the soybeans are gone. Not trying to be a downer here, but look at more warm season annuals for your next summer food plot prior to the deer hunting season. Besides, I am making many assumptions based on what you told me, but things may play out better than I expect if your deer density is lower than it sounds.

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