Food Plot Question
“We have some hunting properties in the Texas Panhandle and are interested in planting food plots for deer and other game species. We have both mule deer and whitetail deer and would like to use some plants that also provide good seeds for quail, dove and even pheasants. It’s a lot to ask of a plot, but do you know what might work well in a food plot in the area between Lubbock and Paducah? My family is thinking about at oats with clover and chicory this fall. Anything would be helpful at this point. Thank you.”
Food Plots Response
Though the Texas Panhandle has much more wildlife than most folks could ever have imagined, it can be a tough place for food plots when it turns off dry. This is more often the case in the spring and summer since fall rains in the area seem to be much more predictable. That said, I’ve had fairly good luck with both summer and fall plots on a property up that way. These plots were for game birds as well as deer.
The summer plots were upland plots planted to millets, cowpeas, milo and even higear (hegari sorghum) primarily for doves and bobwhite quail. Both mule and white-tailed deer loved the mature seedheads of the milos. We ended up getting fairly luck the years we seeded our spring/summer plots. Otherwise, without some precipitation or planned irrigation these warm season plots may endure some tough times. If you are specifically interested in planting these plots for deer then I would also suggest that you consider substituting free-choice feeding of high protein pellets during the years where rainfall looks highly questionable.
Fall Food Plots
Fall plots are much more dependable in the Texas Panhandle. After all, oats and wheat are regularly planted by farmers so they can’t all be wrong. Our fall plots consisted of wheat, oats, chicory and triticale. We also had success when we planted clovers and brassicas for mule deer and whitetail. It’s important to keep in mind that fall plots are primarily for maintenance of deer. Even growing oats have good protein levels, so don’t over think the situation.
The Texas Panhandle is a tough place for game once winter sets in. Deer prefer oats, but wheat is more-hardy plant for food plots in that part of Texas. If you plant one then make sure to mix the other in as well in case the oats freeze out early. Make sure to fertilize them.
My final recommendation would be to plant both your fall and spring food plots at the same time in the fall. Many of the warm season species will not germinate until the late spring or early summer. However, I don’t necessarily recommend planting them all in one seed mix, but rather seeding half of your acreage to a fall plot and the other half to a spring/summer plot. Many fall-planted species will persist into the following summer, providing valuable food for wildlife while growing and as well as at maturity.