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Is a Bean Just a Bean?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"You can buy generic food plot seed, but do you really want to grow something not developed just for deer?

QUESTION: Is any pea or soybean variety okay for a food plot, or are there specific types deer eat or avoid?

Is a Bean Just a Bean?

ANSWER: Peas, soybeans, clover and alfalfa are all classified as legumes, and there are many varieties of each.

Some, like soybeans and some peas, are selected for their ability to produce fruit. Others, like clover, alfalfa and other pea varieties are preferred for producing greens and their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil (which the fruit-producers also do).

Rather than get into specifics of each variety I’ll offer a blanket statement. If your goal is to attract deer, pick a variety specifically designed for that purpose. Standard agricultural varieties will work, but they have been developed for different purposes.

For example, some clovers and alfalfas are intended to provide both green forage and hay for livestock. They tend to be coarser and are less palatable to deer.

Much the same is true for peas and beans. Some varieties are intended for livestock or harvested for human consumption. Just as you can turn a screw with a knife, they’ll work, but they’re not the best choice.

Biologists with wildlife seed companies have gone to great lengths to select varieties that are best suited to wildlife, like deer and turkeys. You might pay a little more than generic seed available at the local co-op, but you’ll be using the right tool for the job.

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