A couple of my partners at hunting camp have thought that we should move from clover to alfalfa "because they have seen more deer in some of the neighbors alfalfa fields". We had pretty good luck with clover in the past and I'm not at all enthusiastic to make that change.
Anyone have any experience with clover vs. alfalfa? What's everyone else had for experience with clover or alfalfa for deer?
The West Central Wisconsin Hunting Resource
Maybe you should consider doing whatI am going to do this summer. I am going tochange some of mymeadow into a clover AND alfalfa field. I have done some research on both as a food plot plant and decided why not plant both of them.
The only difference in nutrient requirements are that alfalfa requires some boron, and clover doesn't. You should probably mow the alfalfa more than the clover, but I wouldn't think this would have a negative effect on the clover. If you already have a clover plot established you could disk strips in the field for the alfalfa, or spray strips with a herbicide and use a no-till seed drill to plant the alfalfa without disking. Good Luck, and let us know how it turns out.
Deer normally prefer whiteclovers over alfalfa, white clovers over redclover, but there are many variables. Field location, nearby cover, soil quality, soil PH, new growth vs old growth. Alfalfa is used for its nutritional quality for cows when dried, not palatability. Although young tender new alfalfa growth would be prefered over old tall clover in full bloom.
Once established, alfalfa is more drought tolerant than clover, but also requires better soil to do well. If your field was large enough you could have a local farmer plant it in alfalfa, and pay you to take hay off it. He would maintain it for you.
If your ground is good enough to grow quality alfalfa, I would stick with clover, but make sure it was mostly white clovers. This last week, deer have dug through the snow to get to my white clover, but not the neighbors alfalfa, in Waukesha.
__________________ "The real problem is not how we shall handle the deer in this emergency. The real problem is one of human managment. Wild life managment is comparatively easy; human management difficult." Aldo Leopold, March 1943
I had actually contacted some outfitters who have to keep deer big and healthy for a living. There was an almost universal opinion that clover was the best choice, except when conditions got dryer when alfalfa seemed to do better due to its deep taproot. Thanks for confirming my suspicions regarding the fact that white clover was the way to go.
One thing more...has anyone had much luck with chicory as part of a clover mix? We had tried some years ago and did not seem to have much luck with deer eating much of it. Anyone else have a similar experience?
The West Central Wisconsin Hunting Resource
I agree with you guys who favor the clovers. Alfalfa is probably the better product, but its harder to maintain as a food plot crop, as it needs to be harvested. Other things to be considered, alfalfa cant be reseeded like clovers can. Another point, some mentioned alfalfa being more drought-resistent. I dont know if I agree with that, in the sense that for food plots aslow maintenance plots, clovers seem to bounce back as soon as theres rain, where alfalfa doesnt as well. I guess what I would say is, in an agricultural setting, with money not being the object, alfalfa would be the better choice. For a small plot, or a guy doing the best he can with some equipment, clover wins out. Also, I like chicory in it too. In fact, I like chicory over clover in some ways. Any fast growing plants are going to work. Dandelions are great deer feed, but not available commercially. Chicory is close. The best bet is to grow cover, and let your neighbor spend the money on food plots!
the main situation you have to decide on is moisture retention held in the soil. Clover will use less, and certain types can adapt to drought tolerancy very well. Alfalfa cannot, as it needs year round moisture to be a perennial crop. Around here in the dryer climates, I grow 4 different kinds of clover, both in one crop fields, to blends with cover crops and open forage mixes. I would have to say here, especially the white clover is the fav, next to crimson clover and so on.
I am reminded everyday that life is too precious by my best friend, Lt. Ken Ballard, who lost his life while serving in Iraq. He fought for our freedom, to do what we do, and how we do it. Hunt till you drop!
When I had my pond put in about 11 years ago I planted White Dutch Clover on the dam.The deer were all over it and,although quite a bit of it has been choked out by grass,they still hit the clover parts.I planted the same clover in a food plot two years ago,It didn't survive the drought of summer but was heavily grazed before it died.I tried alfalfa last year,It was uses extensively and survived the drought but I tried to reseed it and then found out as Bill Yox stated that it cannot be reseeded.The adult plants are able to stop new seeds fro germinating for up to two feet around them(I dont remember what this is called).This year Im going to experiment with turnips,canola and chicory.My best success has been planting winter rye in Sept.
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