Every type of plant for food plots has a "best" season to plant it. In the case of brassicas, that season is now. From August through September is the time to get these plants in the ground. Brassicas include plants such as kale, turnips, ***, radishes and others. They have become extremely popular among food plot mangers because they are easy to grow, provide tremendous amounts of protein and are fed on well by deer. Protein levels can exceed 30 percent in many cases.
|August through September is the ideal time to plant brassica.|
In some areas it takes a season or two before deer become interested in eating brassicas. But once they do, they'll hit them hard. They seem to particularly favor these plants once there has been a frost or two. That increases the sugar content of the plants and makes them especially palatable.
Once the leaves have been eaten down, many of these plants still have a root or bulb left in the ground. Deer often dig those up with their hooves and dine on them during winter when other foods are scarce.
I've tried many brassica mixtures from different wildlife seed companies and had good results with most of them. You can also do well by making up your own combinations of ***, kale, radishes and turnips.
You can either over-seed these into existing plots or, my preference, kill the present vegetation, till the soil repeatedly, then broadcast. Barely cover the seeds with 1/4- to 1/8-inch of soil, and then pack lightly for best results. They'll sprout up within days. You can also mix them with wheat, oats or rye as well as crimson clover for a buffet that deer will relish as cold weather sets in.
Another plus of certain brassicas is that they can improve your soil. Several varieties, including turnips and especially radishes, can make the ground better for future plantings.
Many plots suffer from compacted soil. Plant roots can't penetrate deeply enough to obtain sufficient moisture and nutrients to thrive. They are basically living off the first few inches of ground and struggling to spread their roots through that extremely hard dirt. The usual cause is too many years of shallow tilling or disking with ATVs or small tractors and no deep plowing with a big tractor to aerate and loosen the soil below the top 4-6 inches.
Planting Daikon or Groundhog radishes can help improve this situation. These grow an extremely deep taproot (up to 32 inches) and break up and aerate the soil when the root decays. Deer also relish the roots and will dig down and eat the radishes during winter when food is scarce. An acre can produce up to 5,000 pounds of dry leaf forage and 2,000 pounds of roots with 20-43 percent protein. Five pounds of radish seeds will plant 1/2-3/4 acre.
If these weren't enough reasons to plant brassicas in the next few weeks, here's another one. They grow thick leaf cover, choking out any problem weeds in the plot site. If you've ever done much work with food plots, you know that weed-encroachment is your number one enemy. Brassicas will help with that ongoing battle.