Let's take a look at our experience with brassica food plot plantings.
To begin I guess we should describe what brassicas are. This strange but fancy name is a genus of plant in the mustard family and includes food plot seeds that we call turnips, kale and rape.
Usually they are planted as a fall annual, but they can be planted in the spring or early summer. We've done both.
It's hard for me to write up our experiences planting brassicas because our results have been all over the board. I guess I'll just tell what has happened in our plots and hopefully you can learn something from us.
Our best brassica planting was in 2006 when we planted Tecomate Ultra Forage, which is a brassica, clover and chicory blend. We planted in mid-May and the brassicas flourished, growing to a height that was over my knees. It looked great. The deer moved in and cleaned the plot up in September. I've tried to repeat this scenario in the years since but haven't had the same success with spring plantings.
A couple of years ago we planted brassicas in our hayfield in late summer and they grew to about six to eight inches before the weather turned cold. That year we had a huge acorn yield and a lot of apples as well. The deer didn't touch the brassica plot until about December. Lesson to learn: deer prefer acorns and apples over brassicas. This was the only time we've had a brassica planting go untouched this late into the year.
On other occasions we've planted brassicas in the late summer, had them grow to six to eight inches and the deer move in and clean them up during a one week time span usually in October. This has been our most common outcome.
We've never planted a large plot of brassicas and this has hurt us some in the past. Deer do like them and will eat them, but when they do they will clean them up quick when the plot is small. It would be a hot hunting spot if you happened to be there when hit them hard. I've never been there when that happened. I would call a small plot a quarter acre or less.
What have we learned?
Like every other plant the success of your brassica planting depends on the weather and small plots will get eaten very fast when the deer start eating them. I wouldn't stake much on this, but it seems that they like growing in dryer conditions as well.
We'll keep planting brassicas even though we don't have it all figured out yet.
This is the brassica plot we had in 2006, our most successful to date.