By Mark Kenyon
If I could guess what the most popular question related to food plots is, I’d expect it to be … “What is the best food plot to plant“? Everyone wants to know what is the secret food plot seed thats going to magically make big bucks appear and will lead you to putting giants on the wall every year. Unfortunately though, there is no such such food plot seed or forage out there. There is no one size fits all option, there’s no quick fix, and there’s no single best food plot! There just isn’t. Food plotting is a game of circumstances. The best food plot for me, may not be the best option for you. And the best seed for you, may not be best for me. The key is to understand your goals for a food plot and the circumstances that you find yourself in. Understand these two factors, and you can then begin choosing what the best food plot options are for you.
That said, today I wanted to share with you what MY best food plot option has been over the past few years and why it is the case. For me, that food plot seed has been the Winter Greens blend by Whitetail Institute. Given my goals and circumstances this forage has worked terrifically for me and maybe, if you find yourself in a similar situation, it could be a great option for you too. So read on, as I describe why Winter Greens is currently my top choice when it comes to food plots. But remember, to each his own goals and circumstances!
1. The Power of Attraction: The current goal of my food plotting system is to use plots as a hunting tool. Food and nutrition is plentiful during the spring and summer in my area, so I have prioritized planting a food plot that will be primarily used by deer during the hunting season, allowing me to use that to my advantage when putting together a hunting plan. With that goal in mind, I wanted to plant a plot this year that would be especially useful for holding and attracting deer during the hunting season.
I’ve found, over the past two years actually, that the best option for me with the aforementioned goals in mind, has been Whitetail Institute’s Winter Greens. Winter Greens, being a blend of various leafy “lettuce like” brassicas and turnips, are naturally attractive to deer during the hunting season. For those that haven’t worked with this kind of forage before, brassicas become very, very attractive to deer after a good frost. I’ve seen deer hit my Winter Greens food plot as early as day one of the hunting season on October 1st, but once we get into the November timeframe the deer really start tearing it up. Because of how unique brassicas are in most hunting areas, they can be a serious draw for deer. This period of highest attraction, post frost, is perfect for a hunting plot in my area as well, given that I’m hunting hardest in the late October – December time frame, and I want the deer visiting my plot frequently during these times.
Once that frost hits, the starches in brassicas turn to sugars and the attraction ramps way up – leading to deer really flocking to these types of food plots. This year especially, with many corn crops suffering and acorn production reduced, brassica food plots seemed to be the ticket in many areas of the Midwest. My Winter Greens food plot was a frequent destination for deer, even though there are many cash crop fields in the surrounding area. I believe that brassicas offer some much needed diversity in a deers diet, which they crave and seek out. It has definitely been a big part of why I’ve seen so many good deer on my farms during the November and December timeframe. Winter Greens has pure deer attracting power and thats exactly what I needed on this property.
2. The Perfect Timing and Availability: As important as the attractiveness of a food source is, it must also be available for deer to feed on and for me to hunt over at the right times. This is another area that a brassica like those included in Winter Greens really shines. As mentioned already, brassicas don’t become especially attractive to deer until after a good hard frost. What this allows you to do is have that plot grow in big and lush in the late summer and fall without too much browsing, and then once the core of the hunting season hits, you’ve all of a sudden got one of the biggest and baddest food sources in town. Having a mid to late season food source like this is critical, as it pulls in deer during an important time of year for a hunter. In November, my Winter Greens food plot pulled in does by the boatload, and in turn this brought bucks in to check those does out. Then in December, when natural food and row crops were used up, I had every deer in my quarter mile section heading for my Winter Greens food plot because it was the most attractive and plentiful food source available. This late season availability led to my best friend killing his first buck on December 16 and to me killing two does over the plot during my last two hunts of the year. Now, even after the season, deer are still flocking to the plot eating the last of the leafy greens and digging up the turnip bulbs. This makes for a great plot to have if you’re a shed hunter. I know many folks who have found an antler or two in their brassica food plot in the spring, and I’m hoping to find one myself soon! Winter Greens truly is a food plot timed perfectly for the whitetail hunter.
3. The Ease and Quality of Establishment: I’m no food plotting guru, seasoned farmer, or expert gardener. I’m simply a guy with the desire to plant a food plot, the ability to read instructions, and the time and energy to go about putting one in. And luckily, that’s all thats needed to plant Winter Greens! Just like any food plot seed, a blend from a bag or straight seed from the co-op, you’ve got to follow best practices for whatever it is you intend to plant. With Winter Greens, if you follow the instructions included, plant during the recommended dates, and fertilize the required amount, you’ll be able to quickly and relatively easily put in a fast and furious growing food plot. Winter Greens is a blend of annuals, which means they have one growing season and then they die off. But, because of this short life span, an annual grows faster and stronger than a perennial such as a clover. This results in thick, lush and fast establishing plots. For me, with the goal of a fall hunting plot, this was perfect. I prepared my food plot location and seed bed during the summer, and then in the first week of September I finally got some rain and I broadcast my seed. Within days I had plants popping out of the ground, and by opening day (Oct 1 ), I had a lush, green carpet that was already attracting deer! For a schmuck like me, Winter Greens was easy to establish and it has been the most voracious producer of forage I’ve been able to plant yet.
4. The Expert Help: This is one area that I personally feel that Whitetail Institute really stands out, and that is with expert assistance. Food plots can be a tricky thing and while putting them in, especially if you’re new, there can be a lot of questions. I know that over the past few years of planting plots, I’ve had a whole slew of questions and while there are plenty of resources online, it sometimes is just nice to talk to someone. With Whitetail Institute, you actually have that opportunity. Ready and waiting on the phones are a a group of food plotting experts, whom you can call at any time during the working day and discuss food plots. You can ask questions about specific food plot blends, tips for planting or food plot strategies in general. Whatever it is, they are there to help. I personally have used this service a couple times, and I’ve found it invaluable. Since I was planting Winter Greens, the crew at Whitetail Institute knew exactly the right ideas to pass along to me in regards to specific questions I had, and their advice was key to the success of my plots. If you’re looking to get into planting food plots, it’s hard to overstate how helpful it is having a food plot expert ready to help you, just a phone call away.
So there you have it. Four reasons why Winter Greens is my current #1 option when it comes to food plots on my property. There is no single best food plot for every situation, but if I had to choose my top option for my current circumstances, Winter Greens would be the choice. That said, think through your goals and circumstances, research food plot options and choose the right forage for your situation. It might be Winter Greens and it might not, but whatever it is, you’ll be glad that you matched your food plot to your needs.
For more information on Winter Greens and the Whitetail Institute of North American, visit WhitetailInstitute.com