FINE TUNING FORAGES
for Maximum Fall Performance By Hollis Ayres
hen choosing a forage, don’t forget to consider the purpose you want that forage to serve in the context of your overall food-plot system. When it comes to maximizing the results from your food-plot system, planting only annuals, only perennials, or a combination can all be great options depending on your specific needs. In this article, we’ll talk about the third option — using fall annuals such as Imperial Whitetail Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens, NoPlow and Secret Spot to complement existing perennial plots. Regardless of whether you plan to plant annuals or perennials, there are two general categories of factors you should consider in making your forage selection for a particular site. The first relates to physical conditions of the plot, for example soil type, drainage and equipment accessibility. The second relates to the role you want the forage in that site to play in the context of your overall food-plot system. In this article, we’ll talk about the second group. For example, if your goal for the forage in a particular site is to provide year-around nutrition and attraction and early availability in the spring before natural forages reemerge, a perennial forage is the way to go. Or if you want the forage in that particular plot to provide abundant, highly nutritious growth for fall and winter, you might select an annual. In both cases you’ll want that site to meet a targeted need. Since this article is about using annuals to complement perennials, we’ll assume that you already have perennials planted and focus on ways to complement them with fall annuals. The
Whitetail Institute’s perennial forage blends are Imperial Whitetail Clover, Double-Cross, Alfa-Rack Plus, Chicory Plus, “Chic” Magnet and Extreme. Let’s look at why using annuals to complement these perennials can be such a great benefit, and how to get the most out of the combination. Increased forage variety. Have you ever noticed that most Whitetail Institute forage products are blends of different plant types? There’s a reason. Whitetail Institute forage research, development and testing are completely goal-oriented. Specifically, existing and potential new forages are developed and evaluated by how well they fulfill a host of goals, each of which is directly related to how well they will perform in whitetail deer food plots. These goals include early seedling vigor, heat, drought and cold tolerance, disease resistance, and of course high nutritional content and attractiveness to whitetails. Rarely will a single plant type excel in all areas. That’s one reason most of Whitetail Institute’s forage products are blends — each Imperial forage product is designed with the best possible components and in the right ratios so that the resulting blend performs at the highest possible level in all categories. Using Imperial annuals in conjunction with existing perennials can magnify this benefit even more. In effect, by using annuals to complement your existing perennials you are increasing the number of different plant varieties available to your deer. Consider Imperial Whitetail Clover, for example, which consists of annual clovers as well as the Institute’s proprietary Advantage
and Insight perennial clovers. Annuals such as Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens contain completely different types of plants. The forage oats in Pure Attraction provide a burst of high-carbohydrate food for deer in early fall right when they need it most as they try to store energy for the coming winter. Later, the brassicas in Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens become even sweeter with the first frosts of fall and stand tall in the snow, providing abundant forage for deer during the cold winter months. Broader-Based Attraction and Increased Tonnage. There is no question that Imperial perennial forages are highly attractive to deer, and they stay that way all year or most of the year at a minimum. Whitetail Institute annuals planted in the fall can boost attraction even further. Because of the unique requirements of a deer’s small-ruminant digestive system, deer seek out only the most tender forages, such as newly emerged shoots, leaves and buds in early spring. Annuals planted in the fall are extremely tender and attractive to deer, at a time of year when nature offers little to nothing in the way of highly attractive forage sources. Fall annuals also boost tonnage over that produced by even the best perennials alone. Generally speaking, fall annuals tend to establish and grow even more quickly than perennials. HOW TO USE ANNUALS TO COMPLEMENT YOUR PERENNIALS When it comes to structuring your food-plot system
Imperial No-Plow provides the benefits of early-season and late-season plant varieties in a product designed for minimum seedbed preparation.
WHITETAIL NEWS / Vol. 19, No. 2