As autumn arrives and preparations proceed for this yr’s looking season, many land managers will look to plant fall meals plots. These fall plots is not going to solely assist the general herd of deer by offering a supplemental meals supply all through the winter however are additionally used to assist congregate deer motion to sure areas the place they are often extra simply hunted. The most typical query I all the time get requested by hunters and landowners alike is “What ought to I plant?”
With out realizing their expertise, gear, land, or area, it’s all the time laborious to reply that easy query. Dozens of plant species run by way of my thoughts, however my most typical reply is barley.
Barley is a cereal grain that has been cultivated for over 10,000 years. Much like different widespread complete grains resembling wheat, oats, rye, and millet, barley may be grown in all areas of the US, thriving in most climates and rising situations. Barley is a generally farmed species, harvested for money crop and straight fed to inventory. So why plant barley for deer?
Barley is Straightforward to Develop
Planting and getting a wholesome barley is tremendous simple. I’ve broadcasted it and drilled it, each strategies having nice success. The seeding fee is expansive, anyplace from 70-130 kilos per/acre is suitable. By having such a big margin, it’s simpler for lesser skilled people to develop a thriving plot. Furthermore, the commonest mistake made by land managers is overseeding.
Most yard plots are planted with an ATV broadcast spreader which may be extraordinarily laborious to calibrate. I all the time urge individuals to measure the acreage of the plot, get their desired planting fee, after which flippantly broadcast the seed till completed. This will entail going over the plot two or thrice, however it will likely be far more evenly unfold than attempting to do it precisely in a single protection.
The soil prep for barley can also be wide-ranging. Something from standard tillage to no-till strategies can be utilized. Like all seeds, seed-to-soil contact is essential, so the extra you are able to do, the higher. Alternatively, whereas I used to be planting barley this summer season I cut up a pile of seed on the gravel driveway, solely to come back again just a few weeks later to see a small, but thriving patch of Barley.
One among my favourite issues to do whereas managing a property in Kansas was to over-seed barley on high of standing soybean fields. Because the deer devour the leaves and pods of the beans, the broadcasted barley fills in, making it an absolute smorgasbord. Barley can proceed rising into frigid temperatures and is extraordinarily frost-resistant.
Barley has Low Water Necessities and Versatile Planting Dates
One of many best benefits barley has over different generally planted species is its low water necessities. From germination to maturity (roughly 75-90 days), a barley plant solely wants 4 to 6 inches of rain. That will seem to be quite a bit, however if you evaluate to corn, which takes 20-30 inches of rain, or soybeans that take 20-25 inches of rain, it is a huge distinction. This makes barley extraordinarily drought-resistant and permits it to be planted in dryer occasions of the yr. This additionally permits extraordinarily versatile planting dates. I’ve planted it from March to September. Barley does want extra solar than most broadleaf crops, so plots that lack daylight won’t be perfect.
Barley is Low Upkeep and Extremely Helpful
Barley germinates quickly, normally inside two or three days. This enables it to choke out any competing weeds after planting. Fertilization is not wanted in most conditions. Barley isn’t just deer meals, it’s a nice meals supply for nearly all sport animals. Geese, turkey, upland birds, and even elk may be present in barley. When barley matures it types a nutritious seed head. These seeds not solely act as meals, however uneaten seeds can re-seed the plot within the spring making it nice for spring turkey looking. Barley can also be a dietary powerhouse. It packs extra protein and carbohydrates than corn whereas boosting wholesome quantities of potassium, fiber, iron, magnesium, and B6.
Subsequent time you go to plant your plots, preserve barley in thoughts. Sure, it’d get beat out by different species in some classes resembling vitamin or tonnage, nevertheless it’s virtually inconceivable to mess up. For my part, it’s the best worth with the least threat. Furthermore, its tolerance to drought and frost paired with simple soil prep and quick germination, makes it a no brainer plot for novices and specialists alike. Plus, it is the most cost effective seed you will discover.