Why Brassicas - The Biologic Solution

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Although the goal of having a food plot is to feed deer year round, Brassicas are most palatable to deer in the fall, rather than the spring or summer.

When designing Maximum, Biologic’s whitetail biologists favored a high percentage of the late variety that is most palatable in the fall. This bias toward the late varieties makes Maximum ideal for deer managers and hunters looking to attract and feed deer during the hunting season and after - at times when almost every other forage has frosted down to the dirt. In fact, it would not be too hard to make a case for brassicas being among the very best overall late season deer foods.

For this reason you still need to supplement brassicas with clover in your overall food plot plan to make sure that you have something available for the deer as soon as possible in the spring. Most people don’t realize how important early spring is to maximizing antler development. For this reason, half of the food plot acres should be in clover while the other half should be in brassicas.

There are also two more reasons to consider brassicas for your food plot planting. First, they are not consumed by non-target animals and birds the way corn and other grains are. Turkeys love brassicas but raccoons that would decimate corn don’t bother them. Second, brassicas, with their large leaves, are very shade tolerant. They work great in areas that receive 40 to 50% sunlight such as a firebreak or lane through the timber or even narrow fields.

Nutritional Comparisons

Bucks need protein and the right minerals when growing antlers and when maintaining their bodies. Properly selected brassicas provide for these needs better than anything else you can plant.

Protein: Deer use protein in much the same way we do: to replenish muscle tissue and to promote overall body maintenance. When a buck is growing his antlers, it takes a tremendous amount of his available resources. His system is geared to put a higher priority on body maintenance than antler size, so if he is nutritionally stressed in any way he will not put on his biggest possible set of antlers. In other words, the healthiest bucks – the ones that enter the spring antler-growing season in the best condition and have ample high protein foods - put on the biggest antlers. For that reason it is very important to provide food sources with adequate amounts of protein during the entire year. As mentioned, clover is a great choice for spring and summer, while brassicas are a great choice for fall and winter.

The relative protein level in various food sources is expressed as “percent crude protein”. A high degree of crude protein means the food source has the potential to provide large amounts of useable protein. Many brassicas have very high crude protein levels. The varieties used in Biologic have crude protein levels from 30 to 38% and they hold these levels well into the winter. Compare this to other popular food sources such as ladino clover (24% crude protein), winter wheat and winter rye (12% crude protein), corn (7% crude protein) and soybeans (18% crude protein).

Another important indicator of a food source’s usefulness to deer is its digestibility. Simply put, leaves are much more digestible than stems. Plants that produce a large amount of leaf with a relatively small amount of stem are better for the deer because the same weight of food produces more accessible nutrients. Brassicas have a very high leaf to stem ratio so they are very digestible. By comparison, studies done by Biologic suggest that their brassicas are roughly twice as digestible as other popular food plot plantings including clover and alfalfa. When you couple a high degree of digestibility with a high crude protein level, you have lots of important nutrition making it into the buck’s system.


The primary minerals deer need for antler growth are calcium and phosphorous. Some plants are better than others at extracting these minerals from the ground and brassicas are near the top of the list. That means that when your deer eat brassicas a higher percentage of the natural nutrients from the soil make it to their bodies to promote antler growth.

Bear in mind that the deer industry in New Zealand where Biologic brassicas were formulated is an antler business. It is in their financial best interest to provide the forages that will produce the best antler growth. As mentioned earlier, not all brassicas perform the same with regards to the minerals they extract. Those engineered for deer are more compatible with a deer’s needs.

What About Generic Brassicas?

You can buy brassicas in many places. You can even go down to the local garden supply store and buy turnips if all you want to do is plant brassicas. Or you can go the local farmers coop and order some Dwarf Essex Rape. And, without question the deer will come to them this fall.

So now the question that begs to be answered is, “why would I pay more to get the seed from Biologic when the generic stuff draws deer.” I asked that question of Dr. Grant Woods, who originally imported the brassicas used in Biologic from New Zealand. I was impressed that he spared me the emotional marketing mumbo jumbo and went right to the facts: “just because deer will eat something doesn’t automatically mean they are obtaining maximum benefit from it,” he said. “Biologic will not only attract deer but it will do the very best job of providing them with an optimum amount of protein and minerals.”

In other words, according to Dr. Woods, Biologic simply does a better job of giving deer what they need.

I asked Bobby Cole at Biologic’s main office the same question. “Compared to Dwarf Essex Rape, Biologic will produce a lot more forage. With Biologic you can get more than 12,000 pounds of deer food per acre from a well maintained plot.” Dr. Woods confirmed this number and stated that even in areas with moderate to high deer numbers you can expect to carry 5,000 pounds per acre of quality forage into the winter to feed the deer through stress periods.

There is no question the Biologic Maximum has important advantages over other common brassicas. If your budget allows, this blend is an ideal source for food plot brassicas that should be a key part of your late winter deer nutrition program. Decades of research have gone into making these particular varieties the very best.

Where to Get Biologic and What it Costs

Biologic is sold through independent seed dealers throughout the country. Most farm co-ops will carry the various blends or they can order them for you easily.

At $60 per acre (full retail for a nine-pound bag) Biologic’s Maximum is a bit more expensive per acre than some non-deer specific brassicas such as Dwarf Essex Rape, but if you are serious about feeding deer the decision is a simple one. It’s not like you’re going to be planting hundreds of acres of the stuff. A few extra dollars aren’t going to be missed and on the upside you’ll know that you’ve done everything possible to produce bigger antlers and promote greater herd health.

Two Important Terms

Crude Protein:

This measure is commonly used in forage analysis even though it is well understood that not all of the protein in this chemical analysis will be available for deer. The higher the number, the better the quality of the forage.

Acid Detergent Fiber and digestibility:

Acid detergent fiber is an analytical method to chemically distinguish the readily available cell contents from the less digestible portion on cell walls. ADF is negatively correlated with digestibility. The lower the number, the better the forage.



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