For most of us, the 2016 hunting seasons are done or rapidly winding down. It's almost Christmas and I love to do a little thankful reflecting on what went right in 2016. I'll do a little series on this topic.
Before I start, I'd love to hear from you. What went right for you in 2016? Share your awesome food plots, hunting success stories, and any other good news you have.
When I'm not running Midwest Monster and being a husband and father, I'm spending time at our 80 acre farm in central Minnesota. Here's the first thing that I'm really thankful for when looking back at 2016
1. Brassicas Success!
We had a terrific food plot growing season in 2016! This was one of those years when I felt like we could hardly do anything wrong. Probably the biggest factor was that we had consistent rains all through the growing season, but never so much that it stopped us from planting and getting work done.
This year our Brassicas Bender food plot was the best we've ever grown. The deer definitely agreed, just look what they did to my plot.
Brassicas Bender Plot in August 2016:
Brassicas Bender plot when the deer had finished with it in December 2016:
Brassicas are not the easiest crop to grow and that's why I tell those who are newer to the food plotting game, don't put all your eggs in the brassicas basket! Since most of us plant brassicas in the mid to late summer, timely rainfall can be an issue. Timing is also an issue, you don't want to plant them too early or too late and this can be tough to get right because even if you get your seed planted, if you don't get rain for 10 or more days after you plant, then you're running behind.
This year, we had just planted our brassicas and we had a huge rain the very next day. It couldn't have gone any better, that Brassicas Bender plot was visibly green 5 days later.
And then, after a great summer growing season, we had a very late first hard frost in the fall. So we got an extra 2 weeks of growing in and the deer left the plot alone because there were other things to eat and the brassicas had not turned sweet yet.
So everything came together and the deer hammered that Brassicas Bender plot during hunting season! They would NOT leave that plot alone. Even during the second weekend of the firearms hunting season, we had bucks out eating in the Brassicas Bender plot in the middle of the day! It was unbelievable.
This season just reiterated to me some key things about growing brassicas:
Get your seeds in the ground on time! You have to be ready and have all your prep work done so that the wheels on your planter are turning in your brassicas plot as planned.
Don't over-seed. Brassicas need space. Brassicas Bender needs to be seeded at 9.5 pounds per acre and not an ounce more! Measure the size of your plots so you know exactly how much seed to spread.
Every year I look at the tiny amount of seed that's flying out the back of the broadcaster and I think to myself, "That's not enough! I gotta spread more." DON'T do it! Resist the temptation because if you overcrowd brassicas, they won't get the big turnips, radishes, and beets that are the whole point.
Balance is key. As tempting as it is, don't go "all in" with brassicas. Have a balanced food plot plan that includes annuals and perrienals. Our goal should be to provvide the best nutrition we can for our wildlife, and to do so for as much of the year as possible.
Brassicas can be tough to grow if you don't get the right combination of rain and sunlight/heat. This year we got super-lucky at my farm with ideal combinations of both, but it won't always work out that way. Balance is key.