Mid-summer 2020 Food Plot Update
Here's a mid-summer food plot update from the Midwest Monster home farm near Hinckley, Minnesota. We hope your growing season is going well and all your plots are looking great.
This year has been challenging for some areas. Midwest Monster customers report that dry conditions in early June hurt a lot of young soybean and clover plots. No matter what you plant, you need the right weather for success and unfortunately, we can't control the weather.
At the Midwest Monster Home Farm, we've had a nearly ideal growing season so far in 2020. Unlike the past 7-8 years when we had huge amounts of rain in the spring and early summer that kept us out of the plots, in 2020 I was actually working ground and planting spring plots in May instead of June. A big bonus.
We really started to dry out in the middle of June, but just when things were starting to look pretty bleak, we got rain and then we've had regular rains ever since. We got over 3 inches of rain from June 18-20 alone, so moisture is now ample and with most crops canopied, hopefully we'll be fine the rest of the way.
Clover and Perennial Plots
I keep more than half of my total plot acres in Midwest Monster perennial blends like Mega Clover Plus and AlfalfaMAX. I do this for two reasons. First, deer love clover and alfalfa and there is never a time when they won't eat it. Secondly, perennial plots reduce my workload because they don't need to be replanted every year.
This was the was the first year I haven't had to plant or re-planted any of my 6 acres of clover blends. They just didn't need it. My youngest Mega Clover Plus plot is now 3 years old and it just looks terrific. Thick, lush, almost no weeds, just a beautiful plot. I have another plot of Mega Clover Plus that is 5 years old, and it's doing very well. This older plot may get over-seeded next year to thicken it a little, but this shows that with good weed control, a clover plot can last a long time.
I mowed my clover plots just a few days ago (June 16) and this probably will be my only mowing.
Below: Pictures of our 3-year-old Mega Clover Plus Plot.
Below: Photo looking down the mowing line to show mowing height. I normally only mow once per summer and I try whenever possible to mow only when a strong chance of rain is in the forecast.
Food Plot Soybeans
I plant both Eagle Forage Soybeans and Real World Gen 2 wildlife soybeans in my plots. Eagle and Real World are not really competitors, they are different products for different purposes.
The Eagles excel at feeding deer through the summer and early fall because they produce tons of tasty leaves and the deer are crazy for this tender, high-protein forage.
The Real World beans are all about pod production. They are still aggressive-growing soybeans, but they don't get as tall as the Eagles and that's by design. The reason I also plant Real World is to have pods on the plants for the deer to eat after everything else is dead and covered with snow.
Across both brands, 2020 has been an excellent year for soybeans. My planting dates were:
Real World Gen 2 - 5/16/20
Eagle Forage Soybeans 5/28/20
By the way, the only reason I didn't plant both soybean varieties on 5/16 was that it began to rain and I could only finish the Real World plot before it got too wet.
Germination was excellent and both varieties are doing very well. I sprayed the plots with Glyphosate on 6/19/20 when the weeds were about to get higher than the beans. The kill was very good and I think this year I will be able to get away with that being my only spraying, which is always my goal.
The browsing pressure really ramped up in the past two weeks, so I put up the PlotSAVER scent barrier on July 7. In the first week of having the PlotSAVER in place, the camera on the Eagle plot took exactly 1 picture of a deer in 7 days. This is on a prime soybean plot that the deer were hammering before I put up the PlotSAVER.
Below: Real World Gen2 soybeans on July 10, 2020. This plot was planted on May 16.
Below: Eagle Forage Soybeans on July 10, 2020. This plot was planted on May 28.
I planted our Brassicas Bender on 7/1. We talk to a lot of food plotters every year and a lot of them report that they tried brassicas and all they got were small, immature bulbs. Then I ask them when they planted and they all say the same thing--August or September. Don't listen to the hunting TV shows that are filmed in the south, folks. Brassicas have to be planted in the mid-summer in the northern tier states, not in the "fall" like so may hosts of hunting TV shows say. We just don't have the growing season in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Michigan, and so forth to maximize brassicas size if you plant too late.
We got rain the day after I planted, so things are looking good. It’s early days yet, but we had germination of all species in this blend after 7 days and the plants are now up to 6 inches high as of last week, so things are looking good.
Hope everyone’s season is going well. I love food plotting, every year brings something different and it’s just exciting to grow plots and think about fall.