Winter Weather/Winter Rye
Winter wheat, rye or triticale are used heavily in many southern food plot programs where heavy deer densities and dry summer conditions make other fall and winter food sources less dependable. You’ve no doubt heard the expression green field when referring to southern deer hunting strategies. Green fields are typically some combination of winter grains with a little clover thrown in.
Because winter grains are planted in the fall they take advantage of a time when most areas of the country receive consistent seasonal rainfall, making this crop a good choice in otherwise dry areas. With sufficient moisture winter grains grow fast and can be utilized by deer within a few weeks of planting. They also stay green well into the winter and are very resistant to frost. In the spring they are the first plant to green up, so they are an important early food for deer looking to repair after a hard winter.
However, as an all-purpose deer food source, winter grains fall short. They quickly become tough and unpalatable as spring wears on. Songbirds love the seed heads (and turkeys will hit them too) but deer don’t seem too interested past mid-spring. Because winter grains are effective in certain conditions when nothing else is, they stay on the list of possible options.