The Best Time to Plant Soybeans for Deer: Maximizing Your Food Plots

In the realm of white-tail deer food plots, soybeans are hailed as one of the top choices. These versatile crops not only provide ample nutrition but also attract deer throughout the year. Just like ice cream captivates children, soybeans have the same effect on deer, enticing them to spend hours feeding on these delectable plants. However, the success of a soybean planting depends on several factors, including deer density, plot size, and the availability of alternative food sources in the vicinity.

The Appeal of Forage Soybeans

Soybeans hold a double allure for deer. The leaves and forage that these plants produce during the spring and summer seasons are a rich source of high-protein nutrition for deer herds. These soybean varieties rarely produce a bean pod due to over-browsing, but their primary purpose is to provide warm-season nourishment. On the other hand, some land managers aim to cultivate soybeans primarily for the coveted winter soybean crop. This crop serves as a valuable source of fat and energy for deer during the harsh winter months.

Strategic Planting Times for Soybeans

Soybeans can be sown anytime between spring and summer. Since soybeans are an annual crop, they grow from seed and complete their life cycle within a single growing season. In warmer climates, planting soybeans as early as possible in the season yields better results. For maximum forage output, it is recommended to plant soybeans in the spring, about a month after the last frost for your region, or when soil temperatures consistently reach 60 degrees.

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Ensuring a Successful Soybean Food Plot

Similar to other crops, limiting or eliminating weed competition is essential for a successful soybean planting. The type of weeds encountered can vary depending on the soil and seed bank composition. Grass problems, broadleaf weed infestations, or a combination of both might be encountered during soybean cultivation. The planting method employed plays a crucial role in determining the weed presence and subsequent management.

Preparing the Soil for Soybean Planting

In the world of food plotting, many individuals rely on discing or tilling the ground, broadcasting soybean seeds, and covering and cultipacking. While this method is highly effective for planting, it often leads to a surge of weed growth shortly after. To combat this, planting glyphosate-tolerant soybean varieties, such as the Biologic Game Changer Forage Soybeans, is recommended. Incorporating glyphosate as a pre-planting burn down, along with a pre-emergent herbicide like Dual Magnum, Prowl, or Valor, helps control anticipated weed species. For optimal effectiveness, consult local farmers or agricultural cooperatives to determine the likely weed challenges specific to your area. By employing this approach, particularly in areas with glyphosate-resistant weeds, the soybean plants can outgrow the weed competition, shading the ground and preventing weed-related issues.

Timing the Weed Control for Soybeans

Dealing with weeds later in the growing season is a common challenge faced during soybean cultivation. Evaluating the weed prevalence in the field is crucial before deciding whether a follow-up glyphosate application is necessary for compatible soybean varieties. It is recommended to wait until a significant number of weeds and grasses are around two inches in height before applying herbicides. Most grass species are easily controlled at this stage, while certain broadleaf varieties might require careful management. By adhering to this general rule, wildlife managers can strike a balance between weed control and maintaining a favorable habitat for deer.

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Enhancing Herbicide Efficiency

To maximize the effectiveness of herbicides, particularly glyphosate, several additives can be employed. Preventing glyphosate resistance and eradicating all weeds should be the ultimate goal. The inclusion of AMS (ammonium sulfate) in the herbicide tank mix is highly recommended, especially when using hard well water. AMS aids in controlling tough broadleaf weeds like lambsquarters or velvetleaf. The sulfate component of AMS binds to positively charged hard water ions, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. This prevents these ions from interfering with glyphosate molecules, ensuring maximum herbicide activity in the plant. Add AMS to the tank before adding glyphosate. Additionally, a quality surfactant can significantly enhance herbicide effectiveness. While some glyphosate brands already include surfactants, it is essential to review the product label. If a surfactant is required, a non-ionic surfactant should be added at a concentration of 0.5% to 1.0% of the total spray volume.

Amplify Your Food Plot Success with Soybeans

Soybeans offer exceptional versatility and effectiveness when it comes to wildlife plantings. These crops provide vital nutrition and act as irresistible attractants for whitetails. Whether you reside in Canada, Florida, or anywhere in between, soybeans can be a reliable planting option. Before sowing your soybeans, consider factors such as plot size, deer density, and the availability of surrounding food sources. By carefully assessing these variables, you can anticipate the growth of a successful soybean crop. The advantages of using glyphosate-tolerant soybeans are particularly valuable for gamekeepers.

Please visit Ames Farm Center for all your soybean planting needs.

Tips for Planting Soybeans for Deer

In the video below, Austin Delano provides valuable insights on:

  • Optimal planting times and techniques for soybeans
  • Maximizing soybean germination
  • The nutritional benefits of soybeans
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Header Photo: Aron-J-Hill

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