Winter food source: Turnips/Radishes vs. Corn


Alright, I've got a couple nice bucks I've gotten pictures of the past few years but they are strictly late season, at night, and on the way to the neighbors corn pile. The neighbor and I are buddies so he doesn't care if I run cameras.

Here's the current situation. I planted 3/4 acre of turnips, PTT, and clover. The deer at it all before the first snowflake fell. I will be expanding that plot to two acres this year, and applying all the correct fertilizers for maximum yield. I also have two plots in the LC rye mix. They are digging through one plot to get to the greens/clover. That one was planted in June. The LC rye mix planted in late August never grew much because they destroyed that as well (I planted beans in this ~1 acre plot and they at those to the ground).

I NEED a late season food source to bring those big fellas in. Now, here is my question for those who have planted both corn and turnips/radishes successfully for late season. Is there a benefit over one another?

I don't have a row planter, I'm limited to a potential largest plot of 2 acres. I do not have any fencing. I have been limited to one doe tag because our County sells out in hours on the first day.

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I've seen deer eat two acres of corn before November.
Turnips will last the longest in to late season.

That's what I figured George. We didn't have an acorn crop this year either, and I'm sure that has impacted the eating habits this fall.

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I certainly can't compete with several hundred acres of corn around me. So brassicas are my go to in fall and winter. They produce great leaf growth/normally, and also tubers in the ground that feed thru end of Feb. But I insist having a variety and they hit it all thru the winter from the annual and perennial clovers to WR, WW, oats , peas, alfalfa. Failure of variety can doom you if a crop fails from overbrowsing or weather. Lack of hard mast can be really hard on most small plot habitat managers.
In reality, best thing to improve is great natural browse and good bedding for the doe and bucks with seperation. They may feed elsewhere if you can't provide enough acreage, but will spend quality time in those natural areas especially when the pressure is on.
The farmers have really screwed with me in recent years as they got this hairbrain info to not let their fields go bare and now plant the same brassicas and grains as I do!! Tough competition. I'd rather have their ignorance back.;)
Problem with corn is that it produces a relatively low food mass per acre. Yes, the deer love it, but on a per acre basis the yield is low compared to other crops and the deer will go through an acre of corn very quickly.

Here's a suggestion. Ever thought about investing in a good electric fence? I know this isn't cheap or easy, but in areas with high deer populations where you don't have the option to go much bigger on food plot acreage, it's one of the few real ways of saving the plot until the desired time.

My deer hardly eat bulbs at all. A lot of them that I plant rot in the spring so they wouldn't compete with corn at all.

I just watched a video about this on Grow'em Big: Deer and Deer Hunting TV. He said that if the neighbors have corn that you need to have corn too. Basically said to match what the neighbors have so that you aren't competing against them. Then throw in some low pressure and the deer will not need to go somewhere else to get something because you have it too.

I think it was one of these video's:
My choice is beans for late season. Nothing better in my opinion. I then top the bean plot with brassica, turnip, radish mix after the leaves have started to fall off.
I'm not sure what you can do with that kind of deer pressure. Winter rye "LC" mix is the best i know of to feed a large amount of deer early fall through winter.
This is my first year to leave standing beans--four acres of it. Every day the four acres are filled with 50 plus turkeys. I'm liking the turnips better for late season food than the beans (after three ft. of snow the turnips are out of reach). If the beans didn't draw the turkeys maybe they would be better. The key with the turnips for me is to fertilize exactly as Paul had recommended. It is an insane amount but the resultant yield per acre is huge and the turkeys aren't as drawn to it as the beans.
I live in corn country and I can say I personally do not like corn. I had sat and watched too many deer hanging out in standing corn fields until after dark in prime locations.

I still hear people talking about "draw" with food plots and find this amusing like a deer can not eat anything except for something grown in food plots. Deer eat many things based on nutritional value but the majority will be natural foods. Lots of what they eat will break down quicker than corn so when they see a stomach full of corn they figure corn is the mainstay of the diet.

Draw is created by habitat not something that constitutes a very small percentage of their diet. Is there something missing in their habitat?

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I'm experimenting with sorghum/milo. I like it because they don't eat or destroy it before it's mature. They kill beans, eat the silks off of corn, eat it in the summer, etc. My sorghum was never touched until it was ready. I like having some corn, but I only plant it in a mix, but my farmer usually leaves some.
I'm experimenting with sorghum/milo. I like it because they don't eat or destroy it before it's mature. They kill beans, eat the silks off of corn, eat it in the summer, etc. My sorghum was never touched until it was ready. I like having some corn, but I only plant it in a mix, but my farmer usually leaves some.
I like it too!! Skipped it this year and miss having it in the foodplot arsenal. It's easy to grow in my poor rocky soil. Deer seem to show up early to browse on it. Think they feel safe in it. Won't skip it again! Makes great screens for green plots. I plan to try a combo of milo, corn an sunflowers this spring!
I'm experimenting with sorghum/milo. I like it because they don't eat or destroy it before it's mature. They kill beans, eat the silks off of corn, eat it in the summer, etc. My sorghum was never touched until it was ready. I like having some corn, but I only plant it in a mix, but my farmer usually leaves some.

What exactly do you mean they don't eat it before it's mature? Do they eat the entire plant stalk and all?
What exactly do you mean they don't eat it before it's mature? Do they eat the entire plant stalk and all?
My experience is that they eat the berries about a week before they harden. They love them but it only lasts a week or so. The cover stays all season...

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The other thing when considering plots, is what are they doing to improve the soil for future plantings?? As said, deer browse the leaves of brassica Oct-Dec then the tubers thru end of Feb. They usually can't /don't eat all of them, but the rotting tubers bust the soil and return nutrients quickly back to the soil. Such can be said of the other part of LCs WR planting, it helps reestablish the soil and each subsequent rotation simply improves the soil. You want to improve soil, yet feed deer, and reduce the amount of cost of fert and lime??? Then do his rotation. My ph went from mid 5s to 7 after an initial application of lime and has remained there now for 7 years. My soil tests are VH in all categories. I attribute that to a great extent in using the rotation on my poor soils.
The other that I love of the LC rotation, is the natural edge it creates within the plots themselves if planted in some type of strip or sections as Paul always suggested. Deer are creatures of edge, and that attraction alone is worth the plantings. His ideas of strip plantings, and edge feathering is so simple and cheap , yet so effective. And his idea provided food and cover with no bare soil year round.
Corn has its place, but for a small plot manager, what does it give back to the soil, and what feed does it really provide on a small basis?? As said, deer feed on a lot of plants, and doing simple plots and improving natural browse, bedding, fawning cover, will certainly give you the most for your money and time. I like cheap, and I like easy. LCs mix does that for me.
Another consideration for corn or milo is will you be able to deal with all the left over stalks for your next planting?
WR/Radishes/Clover seem to be the best bang for the buck in our area. WR isn't browsed that much but the cover it gives the clover until it dies out in summer is amazing and the Turnips and clover seems to be our fall/winter staple. I am going to have to put more acrage into plots this coming year because a hard mast failure showed me how bad my plots are lacking on being able to feed deer into winter. The additional plot space will be a challenge because I am also deleting a 1/2 acre plot on our properties north end due to the inability to hunt it and the negative aspect that deer feel no need to travel deeper into our property with it in place and the neighbors sit the fence near it in hopes of catching deer coming too or leaving it...this is a failed attempt at a hunting plot like we always hear about but the good news is I have some open ground there now for some nice tree/cover type plantings this spring!
If you are looking to kill mature deer late season you need to focus on low, low pressure tactics. We have seen the same thing through the years with the big deer showing up late season on the cameras. They are certainly attracted to late season plots but the mature bucks aren't coming out during daylight unless they feel like there is no pressure. Otherwise they will be there after dark, regardless of what you plant. Figure out how to make the deer feel this way on your plots late season. At least one or two plots that you feel have the best chance of killing a mature deer. Usually dictated by the ability to get in and out without deer knowing you are there. We have a couple plots that are there specifically to kill a mature buck during the late muzzleloader.

With that being said, figure out what is a decent feed for deer in your area. Sounds like any of the plots you are planting would draw the deer given the deer feel they can feed safely. We plant all the plots you mention. We have had great luck with corn as a late season plot. Problem is you need a lot of acres to have corn left this time of year. It sounds like that will be an issue for you if you go that route due to deer density. My buddy killed a buck 2 days ago that we have been after for three years. He showed up on a turnip plot that is secluded and has had no pressure. 2 other bucks on the plot with him when my buddy pulled the trigger. The corn we have on this property is GONE. Probably 4 acres worth. The deer on this property are hitting the turnips and LC mix plots just fine. I have been pushing to convert more of those acres to turnips as we get the same draw for a lot less work and money. The big deer are certainly drawn to them this time of year.

Given the situation you have described. I would go turnips or the LC mix and work on making the deer feel like there is no pressure. No real other way around it for killing mature deer after a long season
I plant milo every year and it is a good early season plot.Whatever they don't eat early when green the turkeys,coons are blackbirds will help them finish in short while.Then I plant winter wheat with daikon radish works good for late season.Can't hardly get a deer to eat turnips