Bob Humphrey is the Biology & Deer Behavior field editor for Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine and holds similar titles with other major hunting publications.
He currently lives in Maine with his wife and two children. For more information about Bob, visit his website at www.bobhumphrey.com.
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Burned by Brassicas?
Food plots can be frustrating, especially if your crop looks great and the deer don’t seem to be interested. Have patience. It takes time for deer to learn a new food source, and brassicas also require some freezing temperatures.
QUESTION: I planted winter turnips last September and they grew nicely. As we began to get cold temperatures, the leaves were still green, but the deer didn’t seem to want it. Did I do something wrong? — Captain Mac
ANSWER: Without more information I can’t say if you did anything wrong, but I certainly would not assume so based solely on the fact that deer are not eating your turnips in early fall. Actually, it’s a fairly common phenomenon, particularly if it’s the first time you planted them. Deer usually know what’s good for them, but sometimes they have to learn new foods. Once they do, look out.
It’s also not all that unusual for deer to ignore turnips and other brassicas in early fall. Once the first frost hits and starches change to sugar, they’ll begin gobbling up the leaves, and then the stalks. When everything else is gone and the ground is frozen, they’ll start digging up the turnip bulbs. You just need to be patient. If you treated the soil and planted correctly, the deer will come.