Which are Better Deer Food Plots: Corn or Soybeans?
Turkey season is in full throttle, summer preparation is approaching, but deer season is still several months away, but now, the time of spring and early summer are the months that are actually critical in terms of hunting strategy. You may not be aware that one of the most serious decisions to be made on a hunting property happens now in the offseason while planting spring and summer food plots! This decision is all about food sources, and in particular where your destination food plots will be.
Now I am a big proponent of small food plots, food plots in the woods and poor man plots, but the fact remains that these will not be your destination food sources. What I mean by that is a fairly large food plot that can feed deer during particular parts of the season. Yes, these are basically ag fields in areas like the Midwest, but if the opportunity to plant more than 1 acre…say a 3 or 5-acre plot, then you have an extremely important decision ahead of you. What do you plant?
There is a lot to consider here and the most the basic questions that should enter your mind would be: What food is available on your neighbor’s property?
What food is on your property?
Where and how much cover do you have?
Where is your stand access?
What equipment do you have?
What is your budget?
What area of the country are you in?
What does the timber and early successional cover look like?
How many deer utilize your property in the summer, the fall, and the winter?
These questions can help you determine a lot, and you will eventually arrive at the most important conclusion on your property…when is food lacking on your property? You will fall into one of these categories most likely, one, you are concerned about the food sources in spring and summer and wish to put in a plot that will truly feed deer and supply valuable protein, or you are simply wanting to plant a plot that you can hunt over as food sources dwindle in the late fall and winter.
In terms of feeding, attracting, and supplying food sources, many hunters arrive at the debate of whether to plant corn or soybeans!
Corn Versus Soybean Food Plots
Without leading you to one side of the argument, lets go over the pros and cons of each food plot species.
Corn Food Plots
- If left unharvested Corn is one of the most attractive food sources available in the late fall and winter.
- Protein levels of the grain are around 7-10 percent and are high in fat and carbohydrates.
- Corn provides great cover and security to a property when left standing.
- Corn is expensive on the wallet and in the soil, in particular, it is a heavy nitrogen user and will struggle when planting over consecutive years.
- Corn is relatively useless in terms of a food source until the late season.
Soybean Food Plots
- Soybeans are one of the top most preferred species for summer browse.
- Soybeans provide protein levels upwards of 25-30%
- Soybeans provide a steady 10 months’ worth of attraction from green up to the last pod in February.
- Soybeans can be selected for forage or grain production by variety
The other top late season food source besides corn
- Require large several (2-3+) acre food plots depending on deer density, as they can easily be over browsed in small plots.
- Often require phosphorous and potassium for optimal growth.
- Should be inoculated to increase nitrogen fixation.
With those positives and negatives, and given your property’s situation, which food source would be best for you to plant this year?
If you are questioning whether or not to mix soybean food plots and corn food plots into one planting you should steer away as research has found that forage and grain production are limited when planted in combined plots, and do best standing alone. If this is the case and you have significant acreage then perhaps two plots one of corn and one soybean could be the answer. For those of you with just one large food plot around 2-3 or more acres, comment below to enter the debate and help others make a decision.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line regardless of your decision is to not waste the summer growing season. This is your chance to supply not only summer forage based on your decision but a late winter food source and hunting opportunity. In the case of spring and summer food plots, whether you plant corn or soybeans, your concern should be yield as the late season is when both species supply critical food. In this case, start off and supply the food plot with what it needs. Check out DeerGro’s food plot starter pack below!