Last minute food plots are increasingly common thanks to the busy lives we lead. You thought you’d have your food plot completed by now, but here you are researching last minute food plots and hoping it’s not too late. Rest assured my fellow procrastinator, you still have time to develop a successful food plot.
What do you need to develop a last-minute food plot?
- An adequate ground area that gets enough sunlight per day
- Plenty of water and soil nutrients for plants to thrive
- Proper placement so that wildlife isn’t spooked away
- And, perhaps most importantly, the right type of fast-growing plants
Sure, planting too late in the season puts foliage at greater risk of ruin thanks to weather and other elements, but certain food plot varieties develop at a faster pace and are ready to stand up to winter in a short time.
Ready to grow your food plot? Here are 6 of the best plants for last minute food plots…
#1. Fall Annual
An annual is defined as a plant that completes its life cycle in one year. Perennials take longer to mature and live longer than one year, but when it comes to last-minute food plots, annuals are the superior option. Plus, annuals are less prone to weeds which can help reduce maintenance.
Annuals grow a lot faster than perennials. Fall Annual varieties establish fast enough to be planted 2-months, or 60 days, before the first frost. Annuals are better able to withstand colder temperatures. Secondly, they grow in bulk over a small window of time. The perfect food plot incorporates both annuals and perennials, but last minute food plots are going to do much better with just annuals.
Oats have remained a popular last-minute food plot option for deer hunters. After all, deer adore the delicious taste of oats. Oats are high in carbohydrates and contain around 16% protein, making them highly attractive to deer. In fact, oats can attract deer to areas that other plants cannot. Oats tend to grow at a slower pace than most other grains, this is advantageous because they have a larger window for consumption.
Plant oats around ½-inch deep in the soil. Once seeds are planted, pack the soil for greater seed-to-soil contact.
Brassicas come in many varieties, including Turnips, canola, rapeseed, and radishes. They are easily one of the most popular options for food plots, last minute or not. It’s the glucose that makes Brassicas so attractive to deer. The first frost sparks a chemical process that significantly increases glucose levels. Once the bitter plant takes on sugary qualities, deer can’t resist the stuff. Not only is it glucose-rich, but also it contains high levels of protein at around 37%.
Brassicas are best suited to northern states. Southern states don’t get cold enough to cause serious spikes in glucose levels until too late in the season. That’s why northern states see the greatest benefits of brassicas, with deer usually arriving by late October.
Plant brassica seeds around ¼-inch deep in the soil. Well-prepared soil is going to lead to healthier crops, but this isn’t a picky plant and can still thrive in soil that’s not that well-tilled. Simply drive a truck over the plot and the tires sufficiently pack the seed and soil.
Wheat is most attractive to wildlife during its earliest stages of growth. This is a great filler plant, but shouldn’t be the only thing you add to your food plot. Hunters often plant a mixture of wheat and clover to provide better foraging. Wheat is high in carbs and contains around 17% protein.
If you live in a mid-latitude state, such as Kentucky or Missouri, you’ll find wheat is most attractive to deer between the end of October and the middle of November.
Wheat can grow in wet or dry soil, but good seed-to-soil contact is adamant for success. Plant seeds around 1 to 1 ½ inch deep in the soil and use a cultipacker to properly pack the ground.
#5. Austrian Winter Peas
As the name suggests, this plant is incredibly hardy in the winter. With adequate conditions, this plant can grow as large as 5 feet in height. Whitetails love this plant, which contains 25% protein. Not only can you plant it at the last minute, but also, deer are sure to go crazy for it.
Australian Winter Peas can grow in clay soil but prefer a loamy mix. Plant seeds around 1-inch deep in the soil and use a light cultipacker to run over food plots to promote good soil-to-seed contact. This plant can thrive in dry or moist environments.
#6. Winter Rye
One of the toughest grains in the family, winter rye is a small cereal grain that can handle cold temperatures better than most other plants. As soon as temperatures start to rise in the spring, this plant undergoes rapid growth. Plus, it grows well in a variety of soils and moisture levels, and it’s not picky about pH levels.
This plant does best when planted less than 1-inch in the soil and run over with a light cultipacker.