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The Whitetail Institute’s Imperial Power Plant is a variety of warm season annuals, including soybeans, cow peas, lablab, sorghum and sunflowers.   With the promise of “more tonnage per acre than any other spring/summer annuals”, Power Plant was on my list of food plot seed to try in the spring of 2010.

Sunflowers and sorghum are not something you would normally plant for deer, but there is a method behind the madness.  The sunflowers and sorghum actually provide structure for the legumes to grow up and around.  This keeps the legumes from growing along the ground and possibly stunting their growth.

In addition we also release quail on our farm, so the sorghum can provide them some nutrition in the colder months ahead.

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The Whitetail Institute recommends planting Power Plant once the soil temperatures in your region reach at least a constant 60-65 degrees.   The main reason is that soybeans have much greater success when planted at this temperature.

They also recommend a soil PH of 7, disking the area at least 4-6 inches deep, and disking lightly after broadcast-spreading the seed.

NOTE: We spray our warm season annual plots with 41% glyphosate early in the spring well in advanced of planting.  It takes 10-14 days for the glyphosate to do its job and be safe for planting. We also lime and fertilize based on the PH of the soil and the recommendations for the seed we are planting.


How We Planted It

There were two food plots in which we planted Power Plant.  In the last week of May, we had some pretty warm temperatures here in Virginia and the soil temperature was right at 55.  The decision was made to plant the first food plot.


First Plot

This plot is the largest, around ¾ of an acre, fairly rocky and slightly sloped.  The PH was right around 7 and the soil was fairly easy to disk up because we had tilled it the year before.  We removed the larger rocks by hand and we ended up with a pretty clean bed.

We decided to try something new with this plot, so we only planted Power Plant around the perimeter.  The intention was to use Power Plant’s sorghum and sun flowers as cover for the deer as they munched on the Imperial Clover that we planted in the middle.


Second Plot

We decided to wait a couple of weeks before planting the second food plot, which is about ¼ of an acre.  This was to test the difference that soil temperature would make as well as hedge our bets with the weather.  The plot had a slightly lower PH, was level to sloping, and was less rocky than the first plot.  The entire plot was planted in Power Plant.


Spreading out the planting dates ended up being a great decision.  June was a brutally dry month here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the first plot of Power Plant definitely suffered.

With an average height of about three feet, the sunflowers and sorghum had severely stunted growth.  The soybeans, lablab and cow pea also suffered, but have gradually come on in the last month as we have received some good rain.

Even with the below average growth, the perimeter of cover technique has worked out beautifully.  We have seen deer bedding in the middle as anticipated.  This did not happen last year when it was just clover.

The second plot was planted at the very beginning of the drought (unknowingly at the time), but has done extremely well, with some of the sorghum already well over 8 feet tall.  It initially was very slow to grow, but has really taken off in the last month with fairly good rain.  NOTE: The soil temperature was also 10 degrees warmer when planted.

The deer have been feeding heavily around the edges, but Power Plant has grown so fast that it has really held its own against grazing pressure.  There is still an abundant amount of forage left towards as you move to the middle.

imperial-power-plant-deer-grazing-heavy imperial-power-plant-sorghum

The fact that there is no selective herbicide that you can use on Power Plant (because you have legumes and grasses) was something I did not like about it before I bought it.  However, it grew so thick in both plots that weeds have no chance.

imperial-power-plant-no-weeds_m imperial_power_plant_bright


While it has not been through a hunting season yet, we are very pleased with the results of Power Plant thus far.  It has definitely provided more forage than any other food plot mix we have ever planted, and the deer are coming to it on a regular basis.  

Out of 5, I would give it a 4.5.   The reason that I don’t give it a full 5 out of 5 is that there is a little too much sunflower and sorghum seed.  The bag says they consist of 7.5% of the seed each.  If that is the case, I would like to see it dropped to about half of that.

Power Plant should die out after the first hard frost, so I will create a Part 2 of this blog with the final results and thoughts then.

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