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Perennial Vs. Annual Food Plots – What Should I Do?

August 12, 2019
August 12, 2019 1080outdoors

Perennial Vs. Annual Food Plots – What Should I Do?

When I was very young, I wanted to be a farmer. The fresh dirt fields, the smell of freshly cut hay and the immaculate appearance in the late summer. 

There is something true about the visual appeal a food plot gives a fall setting. Everything around you has changed to beautiful fall colors, except this lush green carpet you worked so hard to create. Add a heavy frost in November and there isn’t a place I would rather be. Not even Lambeau Field.

After reading my last blog, deciding whether or not you need a food plot, I will dive deeper into the difference between perennials and annuals.

Perennials: 

Definition – According to Texas A&M, horticulture, “Naturally, perennials are plants that persist for many growing seasons. Generally, the top portion of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system.”

There are a many types of perennials, but clover, alfalfa and some chicory are the most common used for deer hunting. 

Pros: 

Perennials generally return for three to five years, especially, clover blends. The root system grows deep enough into the ground where the plant will recoup every year. If it does fail, you can still get food in there if you’re in August. 

Cons: 

They can be a lot of maintenance. I mow my clover fields 2-3 times a year and it should be four. The weed control can be pretty daunting at times as well. If you live a long ways away from your plot, perennials may not be for you. Also, generally perennials do not last as long into the fall and winter as annuals do. 

Annuals:

Definition: “annuals are plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season. All roots, stems, and leaves of the plant die annually. Only the dormant seeds bridge the gap between one generation to the next.”

There are two types of annuals.

Summer Annual: 

Different types of summer annuals are soybeans, corn, grain, sorghum and cow peas. 

Pros 

This is probably the main crop that you have on your farm that you’re hunting. It will feed your herd throughout the year. 

Cons 

You need a lot of acreage to plant most of these, which includes needing large equipment. If you plant corn in a small area, deer will destroy it. Same with beans. These crops tend to brown early. 

Fall Annual:

Different types are wheat, rye, oats, clover, chicory, brassica, turnips and radishes. 

Pros 

Quick germination. They turn lush green quickly, usually between 45 and 60 days and they can provide late season food well into the winter. 

Cons 

The area that you’re planting in August generally doesn’t have food early and if it fails you are screwed for that spot. You need to plant these in late July and August which is a pretty terrible time to be in the woods. IMO

My Take: 

It is dependent on you, but a major thing to take into account is time. Perennials can be a lot to maintain. Some think it is as simple to plant a clover field and it will naturally come back beautiful and lush every year. 

Annuals take time to put in, but you can structure where it really only takes two or three days of work to complete it. 

Something to consider when deciding between these two is the type of crops that are already on your property. The type of food that is feeding your deer. 

If you think that you’re going to run out of winter food, annual radish and brassica blend is something that can last deep into the winter. 

Location, like I said earlier, some of these plots can only sustain so much browse from the animals there. There’s certain blends that can handle constant browse. Clover handles it very well as a perennial. Some of the annual green blends do handle it very well, but some of the other, corn, beans, those type of things, don’t handle low acreage areas. 

I personally do prefer fall plots. That’s generally what I do plant. I’m going to go into further detail on fall food plots in the next blog.

Remember to do your own research and draw from your personal experiences. 

About The Author

Taylor is the Owner and founder of 1080 Outdoors. He founded the company from his drive and passion of the Outdoors. He thoroughly enjoys Turkey and Deer Hunting in midwest. He runs a digital marketing company after he recently left the Law Enforcement profession. Follow along on Taylor’s hunting journey this year.

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