Fall food plots are a great way to provide forage throughout the colder months of the year and into the beginning of spring before you plant your spring warm season plots. It will help maintain the carrying capacity of your property and can also be a great attractant for a hunting stand. NOTE: Please check with your state and local game laws when planting supplemental nutrition.
Cool season forages can be planted in fall. Cool season forages start to grow once the air and soil temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Just like warm season forages, they can be annual or perennial.
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Cool Season Annuals
Here is a list of some cool season annuals that you can plant. Please contact your local co-op or a seed manufacturer to determine which is best for your area.
- Austrian Winter Peas
- Annual Clovers (arrowleaf, berseem, crimson, rose, subterranean, yellow blossom)
- Blue Lupine
- Hairy Vetch
We rotate cool season annuals with some of our warm season annuals. We mow the warm season annuals down in August a couple of weeks before fall planting. Don’t mow everything down though, as you need to leave something for your deer during the transition.
Last fall we planted rape, kale and turnips, and the deer did not touch it for a couple months. Brassicas (rape, kale, turnips) taste better to deer once the temperatures get colder. Also sometimes it takes deer a season to understand what the food source is. That can happen when they become desperate and are trying to survive the winter.
We had a fairly hard winter here in Virginia, with three snows of more than 20”. The deer were digging through two feet plus of snow to get to these plots. When spring came, the deer were eating up the new growth from these annuals.
Cool Season Perennials
Here is a list of some cool season perennials that you can plant. Please contact your local co-op or a seed manufacturer to determine which is best for your area.
- Birdsfoot trefoil
- Perennial clovers (alsike, red, white)
This fall we are planning to mix chicory with a perennial clover in one of the plots. The clover provides nitrogen for the chicory, so it should be a great combination.
What You Should Plant?
When planting in an area for the first time, you may want to plant several smaller food plots with a variety of forages, just to see how things grow. It may also show you what the deer like and don’t like.
As mentioned previously, contact your local co-op or your favorite seed manufacturer to determine what grows best in your area. Other hunters and farmers in your area can also provide much needed guidance. Always check your state and local game laws before planting supplemental food plots.