Why Brassicas - The Biologic Solution
The typical food plot formula requires that you put a portion of your available plot acres into winter foods such as sorghum and corn and a portion into summer foods such as alfalfa and clover. Unfortunately, this formula fails to rise to the challenge when the deer population is moderate to high. And it fails to optimize the tonnage that you can create on limited food plot acreage. Here’s where the conventional approach falls short, and what you can do to fix it.
The Annual Challenge
Suppose you plant clover as the summer food source. It greens up very fast in the spring and lots of deer can graze it all summer without any lasting damage to the plant. It is therefore a good choice as a spring and summer food, but when the first hard frost hits, clover wilts and becomes much less accessible to the deer. You would be hard pressed to call clover a good winter food.
Realizing that clover would never take your deer through the winter, you invested the necessary money to plant corn on some of your food plot acres. If your deer density is relatively high, this will result in disappointment, unrewarded expenses and missed opportunities. By the second year in this plan, the deer will figure it out and will begin to eat the corn during the summer. Even though they have good high-protein options in the clover (which is much better for them), they still like to eat the sweet tasting stalks of the corn plants while they are growing. It is like giving kids a choice between beans and Ho-Hos. They’ll shred that box of Ho-Hos faster than you can say, “multiple cavities.”
It is the same with the deer. Soon, they shred the corn in summer until it is a transparent ear-less stand. Mad that your investment brought zero useful return you determine never to plant corn again.
Next you try sorghum thinking it will serve as a good alternative to corn as a high-energy winter food source. Once again, the deer may let it go until the winter the first year but they will soon gain a taste for it, as well. By the second year, they will be taking number as they stand in line waiting for the seed heads to fill and firm up in late summer – usually early September. This is when the seed is most appealing to the deer and they will hammer it for two weeks until every head is reduced to a bare stalk. Once again, they’ve just eaten their winter food supply during the summer. Those pigs.
Obviously, the challenge is to find something that deer can either eat both summer and winter or something that they’ll leave alone during the summer and eat heartily during the winter. One possibility is soybeans. If you can get the plant up about six to eight inches before the deer descend on it, you have a chance to establish the plot. The deer will eat the leaves during the summer and the plant will still put on a limited amount of pods with beans that the deer will then eat during the winter. The only problem with beans is getting them past the deer early in their growth cycle - snip them off when they are young and they will die. Besides the deer diminish total tonnage greatly through their early and incessant grazing.
One of the very best solutions to this challenge is to incorporate a healthy amount of brassicas into your food plot plantings. Brassicas are a category of plants with broad, fleshy leaves. BioLogic Maximum is a classic example of this increasingly popular food plot category.
Brassicas are available in a variety of styles (called cultivars) – there are hundreds of them - and have been selected and bred to serve a number of roles. Some produce high tonnage but with moderate nutritional quality. Others are optimized to be highly desirable and palatable in the summer while others will not be palatable until late – typically into the fall. Some put down edible tubers (common turnips are an example) while others, such as standard garden broccoli, produce large edible heads. In other words, it’s impossible to make general statements about brassicas because they have become extremely specialized in purpose.
The best brassicas for your food plots are those that have been chosen and bred specifically to meet the needs of deer. Only the brassicas imported from the New Zealand deer farmers and offered in North America by Biologic can positively make this claim. Brassicas are herbal; that means they are very good at extracting specific minerals and nutrients from the soil.
The brassicas used in Biologic Maximum are particularly suited for extracting calcium and phosphorous in the right ratios for deer antler development. For example, the brassicas in Biologic will extract these nutrients at a rate of six parts calcium (which is extremely important in antler growth) to one part phosphorous. This is ideal for deer. Dwarf Essex rape, used in some blends for example, extracts these two nutrients at a ratio closer to one to one.
BioLogic’s brassicas have been tweaked for deer managers in other ways, too. Maximum features three varieties: two are highly palatable in warm weather prior to frost while the final variety is most desirable late in its growth cycle after the first cold snap of the fall.