With warmer weather approaching and the upcoming spring planting season here, one thing that should be on every serious gamekeeper’s mind is warm season food plots. I really enjoy the spring planting season and all that it entails. Many of us passed several bucks this past hunting season that need one more year of highly nutritious, quality groceries to see what they are capable of growing. Many gamekeepers are interested in growing bigger, healthier deer but don’t fully realize the importance of planting summer food plots that give those deer the high protein groceries they need for optimum growth. We all love to see pictures and video footage of those velvet racked bucks and pregnant does wading through a sea of forage gorging on all the food they want. Why not make that your property?
The single biggest reason for food plot failure in warm season food plots is usually over-browsing. This can be a combination of plots that are too small in size as well as high deer density. With BioLogic’s Protein Pea blend we wanted to introduce a planting with a couple of legumes that were as browse tolerant as possible. Typically when a highly attractive legume such as a soybean is planted in small plots, the plot receives immediate damage when the young plants are browsed off very close to the ground just after they have emerged from the soil. This browsing on the young plants typically includes the “terminal bud” being bit off and the result is a dead stem.
Another important aspect we wanted to include is the ability to spray the plot with specific herbicides for weed control if needed. There have been many managers who have given up on warm season food plots simply because of weed issues, and understandably so. The Protein Pea blend contains all legumes so it works very well in tandem with Weed Reaper grass specific herbicide. Broadleaf herbicides such as Raptor (imazamox) or 2,4-DB (butyrac 200) can be used to control any broadleaf weeds that threaten to be competition.
After a couple years of trial plots we have really been impressed with mung beans for a portion of this blend. If you have never heard of mung beans you’re not alone, typically known for their nutritional benefits for human consumption, mung beans have proven to be very attractive to deer and have the browse resistance we’re looking for.
These beans were first domesticated in Persia and are typically now cultivated in Asian countries and India where there are touted for their use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
Early trial plots we planted with mung beans were quickly met with some really high heat and drought conditions in the south. The young plants held on very well through the stressful weather and once they received some measurable rainfall recovered great and proved to be in great health. The mung beans were planted as a stand-alone crop as well as some trial plots with common warm season crops such as sunflowers and sorghum with which they complimented well above expectations.
After researching and trialing several varieties, the most favorable crop companion for the mung beans for our new Protein Pea blend was the tried and true Iron Clay cowpea. In several trial fields these two legumes grew really well together and made the decision very easy to make them part of the final blend. After years of planting warm season food plots, I have never been disappointed with iron clay peas. Browse tolerance, disease resistant, very nutritional, and holding up really well in drought conditions are all qualities of iron clay peas. It’s no surprise these peas are as resilient as they originated in some very dry and arid countries in Africa and are still used there today as a major food source.
Two superior characteristics also found with the Protein Pea blend is tolerance to some shade and the ability to grow in less than ideal soil conditions. One trial plot that did exceptionally well given its circumstances was planted in soil that had just been cleared of 20+ year old sweet gums and pine trees. Even with no lime or fertilizer added and spending 2-3 hours a day in shade, the plants grew to knee high and were exceptionally healthy.
We really expect this blend to be a perfect fit for gamekeepers looking to add high protein food plots to their property. Protein Peas is a simple and very effective answer for a whitetail’s nutritional needs during the warm growing season.