Without too much argument, itís safe to say that brassicaís are one of the most commonly planted foodplot forages for whitetail deer. For starters, they are very easy to grow, require minimal maintenance, and rapidly produce a ton of forage. The 3 most common brassicaís planted for whitetail deer in food plots include kale, rape, and turnips, with a mixture of rape and turnips being the most widely used in the foodplotting industry today. I might add also, that there are long season brassicas which are planted in the springtime and have a maturing day of around 150 days and short season brassicas which are the most commonly planted in whitetail deer foodplots and mature in the 60 to 90 day timeframe. Antler Kings Honey Hole Blend of brassica seed is comprised of short season brassicas that are planted in late summer or early fall. Honey Hole contains many different varieties of brassica seed to insure that if one variety doesnít perform well in your area, you have several others to rely on. The majority of my Nebraska custom planted brassica foodplots this year were planted during the 2nd week of August and they have performed exceptional.
Timing is everything when it comes to planting brassicaís. One of the most common problems that I hear about is individuals planting them too early in the summer or even planting short season turnip varieties in the springtime. What happens is the turnips mature and seed out, which causes the turnip bulbs to just eventually rot in the ground over the summertime without ever being utilized by whitetails during the late fall and wintertime when they would have utilized them the most. I might add another back to basics step that gets so commonly overlooked when planting brassicaís is planting the seed too heavy. 5-6 lbs of brassica seed per acre will give you good results. Brassica plants grow fast, require a lot of space, and do not like competition from other plants. A lot of times, many commercial mixes will contain your brassica seed but also include a seed variety mixed in, such as buck forage oats, or a type of clover. Donít waste your money on these mixes as the brassicas grow so fast and will eventually choke out the other seed varieties.
Brassicaís are a lot like corn in terms of nutrient requirements, both love nitrogen and the more the better. Following a soil test, but prior to seeding your brassica foodplot I usually apply around 250 to 300lbs per acre of triple19 fertilizer which gets the plants off to a great start. If any yellowing should occur early on usually means a lack of nitrogen which can be easily fixed with a topdressing of urea preferably right before a rain. Maintaining your antler king honey hole foodplot is simple because it is planted in late summer/early fall when competition from weeds and grasses is low. Even if invasive grass/weeds start to show up, the brassicas will most likely outgrow and choke out unwanted grasses. However if spraying is needed, a postemergence application of select herbicide applied at a rate of 9-10oz per acre with crop oil added should do the trick.
The ideal outcome of your successful Nebraska foodplot planted with Antler Kingís Honey Hole Blend would be 3ítall brassica tops with baseball sized turnip bulbs protruding slightly above the ground surface with numerous deer feeding in your foodplot. Iím sure youíve heard of others that have planted a brassica foodplot and have witnessed deer rooting around like a bunch of hogs digging frozen turnips out of the ground. However, this is not always the case. From my experience and documentation over the years, you have a 50/50 shot of deer utilizing your brassica foodplot. If this is your first time planting a brassica foodplot on your huntin property, I would recommend not throwing all your chips in at once and planting all your planned fall foodplots to brassica plantings only until you see how the deer will react to them the first year. There are several other Antler King foodplot seed choices available that can be planted in the fall as well that deer will readily utilize. This also brings up an important point, I find it beneficial to include at least a couple different type plantings of foodplot blends on your property to give deer a variety of groceries to choose from. My first year planting a brassica foodplot resulted in heavy grazing of the green tops and absolutely no turnip bulb consumption. The 2nd year also resulted in heavy grazing on the brassica tops and than late in that year during the December muzzleloader season, a cold spell hit and it wasnít uncommon to witness 20 to 30 deer in that Antler King honey hole foodplot digging turnips out of the frozen ground. Generally, weather as well as available crops nearby such as standing corn and soybeans are also a main deciding factor on how much usage your brassica foodplot for whitetails will take on. Here is the list of steps that I use when planting my brassica foodplot:
1. Soil test
2. Spread fertilizer and lime if needed
3. Till or disc in fertilizer and lime
4. Cultipack or firm up seedbed prior to planting brassica seed
5. Spread seed (5-6 lbs per acre)
6. Cultipack again to lightly press seeds into the soil