Sorghum is normally promoted for upland habitats, but is can also be a very effective food source for deer.

Grain sorghum (often called milo) has been promoted for upland bird habitat, but it is also an effective food source for deer. On the property I’ve managed we’ve planted a lot of milo over the years. It has two positive points and two negative points. On the upside, the grain heads are well utilized throughout the fall, but the plant itself is not touched during the summer, regardless of deer density. This all but guarantees a crop come fall. Also, sorghum is a more resilient plant than corn and will compete well with weeds and still produce heads. It grows well even during fairly dry summers. Like corn, you can generally find a free source for milo, helping to reduce the cost of the planting.

However, on the downside, once deer get used to eating milo they will eat the heads to the stem just as soon as the seeds reach the “dough stage”. This is the point when the seeds take shape but haven’t dried down – typically in September. Again, this is a learned response by deer in moderate to high-densities.

Sorghum will produce both late fall nd winter during the first year or two, but after that it reduces to only early fall.

The first year or two of a sorghum planting program in this setting will produce the desired result – late fall and winter food – but after that you may only be producing early fall food for consumption at a time when deer could (and should) still be eating legumes and other protein-rich foods.

As another negative, sorghum is less desirable than corn as a winter carbohydrate source. Therefore, it can’t be counted on to bring deer running when the mercury drops the way corn can. In areas with lower deer densities where both can be grown effectively, corn is better. Sorghum has a place in a larger management program but for our five-acres it doesn’t make the cut.



Garden Prairie, IL
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