Question: “We want to establish a summer food plot for deer in Texas. We have been managing our property for several years, but feel that additional food would really help the deer found on our land. I have a few questions regarding preparations for our summer food plot. In the fall we planted about 8 acres in wheat, and are looking to plant lablab and iron/clay peas in mid-April. Does the wheat need to be shredded prior to disking or is it okay to leave it standing? Is there anything special that you would do for a summer plot for whitetail in Texas?”
Answer: A big component of managing a whitetail deer herd is providing the animals with a high level of nutrition. Spring and summer food plots for deer are one way to to that. To answer your question, first, I would break the ground to insure the bonding of your seeds to the soil. The wheat may have to be mowed if it is so tall that it interferes with disking. If it’s short, probably will not be a problem. One thing is for sure, you do not want the established wheat to compete for the nutrients with your spring-summer food plot seed mix.
In addition, I would also suggest that you add turnips and spring and summer clovers as well. These make great additions to food plots because whitetail love them. Concentrate on high protein legumes that will give the deer much-needed protein during this stressful time of th year. Clovers in your food plots will also give the lab lab, peas and turnips time to grow and mature.
And just to be clear, do not skimp on field preparation. I would also make sure you till the ground and apply fertilizer, as recommended by a soil test. If it were me, I would till all the plant material into the ground. This adds organic matter for the future, as well as nutrients.
Lab lab and cowpeas will grow very tall and thick if they are allowed to grow without much browsing pressure. Both can get quite viney with runners and they can potentially shade out any other plants in your deer food plot. Depending on where your location in Texas, the clovers and peas may not do well. Clovers are mainly planted in the fall with wheat in most of Texas, but they will definitely work if you are farther eat or can irrigate.
Lab lab is a very drought tolerant plant, but it needs moisture at the right times. Keep in mind that the other smaller legumes and turnips will also be competing for moisture from the soil. If you can fence the food plot to keep the deer off it for a while this would be best, but not entirely essential. Fencing would allow the lab lab and cowpeas time grow ahead of the deer, then you could open the field up. Spring and summer food plots for deer are a good idea and should be a part of every deer management program.