Seed Mixes


White-tailed deer are ruminants like cattle. This means they can digest foods, such as woody plants, that humans cannot. Deer will eat grasses, sedges, fruits, nuts, forbs, and mushrooms in addition to their “basic” diet of trees and shrubs. A majority of the deer’s diet consists of a single food item, but deer sample many plants while feeding. In Iowa, row crops, especially corn and soybeans, can make up 78 percent of their diet. When food is scarce. deer will eat almost any plant, even those they avoid when food is plentiful. For example, browsing effects sometimes are evident on eastern red cedar, which is not a preferred food.

Deer preferences vary from one location to another and with the season. Their preferences are influenced by the availability and variety of natural and planted foods they encounter during their daily movements. As the abundance and quality of foods change, the deer change their feeding habits. Deer select foods that provide certain nutrients that they need at certain times of the year. Therefore, a variety of plantings is better than a single crop.
Small grains and clovers are usually planted as cool-season foods for deer. These plants stay green in the winter, and they are attractive to deer. There are many small grain and clover varieties to choose from. Some produce early, while others provide maximum
forage production later in the growing season. Mixes are often planted to spread the production over a longer period of time.

Mix 1
2 bu. wheat
1 bu. oats
5 lb. crimson clover
7 lb. red clover

Mix 2
1 bu. wheat
1 bu. oats
1 bu. grain rye
5 lb. crimson clover
7 lb. red clover

Mix 3
1 bu. oats
7 lb. red clover
5 lb. crimson clover
7 lb. red clover

Clover Mix 3
2 bu. grain rye
5 lb. ladino clover

Clover Mix 4
15 lb. red clover
10 lb. crimson clover

The amounts in these mixtures are for planting a 1-acre food plot.

Mixes 1 and 2 are adapted to a wide variety of soil types and conditions and will have to be replanted annually. Mix 3 will do best on soils that have good moisture-retaining capabilities but are not wet. Some examples are moist bottomlands and blackbelt soils. Once the lading clover in Mix 3 becomes established, it can persist for 5 years or longer. Mix 4 will produce on sites that become too dry for lading clovers. Clover Mix 4 probably will produce for 1 or 2 years and then have to be replanted.

No specific varieties have been noted. Use the variety adapted to your area. Your county Extension agent can give you information on which type to buy. Compare prices and ingredients that go into commercially prepared mixes (state law requires a listing on seed bags). A comparison will help you decide whether you want to buy a name-brand mix or make up your own.

In Alabama, late August to mid September is the best time to plant cool-season deer foods. Labor Day weekend is the traditional time for planting food plots on many hunting clubs in Alabama.