Are Annual/Perennial Combos the Right Choice?
By Kenny Thompson
As the bucks are transitioning into their favorite time of the year, I would bet that you are wondering if the choices you have made for their primary food sources were correct. You are not alone when having doubts as every GameKeeper sometimes second-guesses their yearly game plan. Hopefully we can help define what we feel is a very important part of that plan and help make a great choice for that perfect fall attractant food source.
As I enter my 11th year operating Plots Plus, we have had many fall game plans put together for hundreds of farms for GameKeepers trying to reach their goals all over the country. Every single plan we develop almost always includes what I feel is the most important fall attractant that I have ever used. This favorite blend of mine is BioLogic’s Premium Perennial and it offers more in one bag than you can find anywhere for any price. Over the last 11 years, I have received many calls from other GameKeepers asking me what was the best one thing they could plant to attract and hold deer on their property. I have always answered this question with the same response. “There isn’t a magic bean for whitetails that will last year-round.” But as we all know, a variety of food throughout the year is the key to making sure the deer don’t leave to find a desired food source. What I also say is, “there is a blend that can offer you a great desirable food source for three out of the four seasons and will keep you’re your whitetails close by.” I then explain why I love this blend so much.
Both Perfect Plot and Premium Perennial are blends of quick-growing annuals and long-lasting perennials to attract and hold the deer from its emergence in the early fall with continued growth through the winter, spring and following summer. In my opinion, it has the best New Zealand brassicas to attract whitetails in the fall and winter and while they are feeding and holding the deer through those tough winter months, the reliable perennials are slowly emerging in the spring and then explode into the summer. This is an unbelievable advantage to any GameKeeper that may be limited for time or expense in making sure their hard work in planting can give them the best bang for their buck. This is how this one great blend can give you a great food source for three of the four seasons.
Another one of the advantages that Premium Perennial or Perfect Plot can offer you is a great jumpstart to a long-lasting perennial clover plot. As I’ve mentioned before, in the south I always plant my new clover plots in the fall and the downside of this is you never get much benefit out that clover plot until the following spring. Clover is a slow-starter and has to establish a defined root system under the ground before it can thrive above the ground. Clover is the turtle and not the rabbit when you’re running the race of annuals vs. perennials.
My favorite way to plant Premium Perennial is the good old conventional way of broadcasting over a well-broken seedbed. All the seed sizes in this blend are very comparable in size so getting a good even broadcast spread is very simple. The blend of brassicas, clovers, and chicory all can be evenly spread through a multitude of broadcast spreaders of all sizes and easily give you a evenly distributed planted field. I have had great success in either disking or tilling my plots and then applying the appropriate lime and fertilizer amounts from my previously obtained soil samples first. I will then drag these nutrients into the seedbed and work them into the freshly exposed soil to incorporate them together. This will also smooth your seedbed and allow you to have a good clean field to then begin broadcasting.
One tip that I can give you is to open your spreader very little when you begin broadcasting. Due to the small size of all the seeds in this blend, they will flow very quickly and it will not take long for them to run through the spreader. The clean seedbed that you just incorporated your fertilizer into will now allow you to see your tracks from your tractor, ATV or feet. Keeping the correct distance between your tracks will allow for a good, even distribution of the seeds and allow for an evenly planted field. If you cover the entire area and still have seed left, just go back over the area until the seed is used up.
Here in West Tennessee, I have found that the perfect time to plant Premium Perennial is from late August through mid-September. The further north you go, you can back those planting times up and allow more time for growth. In the north it is also possible to plant perennials during the late summer, you must; however, make sure you give the roots at least 45 days to establish. Where normally perennials are planted during the spring in the north, Premium Perennial or Perfect Plot make great choices to get a jump start on next year’s perennial plot with the bonus of having late season attraction and winter nutrition from the brassicas.
It’s a good idea to look back at your region’s average annual first frost date and back your planting time up 45 days from then. That will allow enough time to get a great jump on the initial perennial growth.