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Deer Eating Ripe Wheat

Old 07-28-2004, 10:51 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Dallas Texas USA
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Default Deer Eating Ripe Wheat

My folks have about 2 acres with wheat on it which was planted last fall and ripened this summer. We've been told that the deer are in the plot eating the ripe wheat.

Has anyone else observed this behavior and do deer tend to prefer ripened wheat? The deer have plenty of natural forage to eat. Perhaps they have become conditioned to it?

The reason I'm asking is if the consensus is that deer prefer the ripe wheat, I'm not going to get in any hurry to disc it under. I like keeping them around, and there'll be plenty of winter wheat on adjacent properties come September.
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Old 07-28-2004, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Bonnots Mill Missouri USA
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Default RE: Deer Eating Ripe Wheat

Deer, squirrels, and other animals will eat the wheat grain. I never heard of any one keeping the wheat untill the following fall. There may not be any seed left by them due to animal use and/or just naturally falling off the stalk. Some will fall and reseed itself. If you don't get much response here, leave part of it and replant the rest. Give us a report later on.
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:29 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Location: cazenovia, NY USA
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Default RE: Deer Eating Ripe Wheat

Never say never - but it would be my opinion that it is not "normal" for deer to key in on ripe wheat.

One year, we had several bucks that were consistently seen stripping the heads of Ripe barley. We thought that they were in the fields because underseeded in the field was alfalfa. But as we watched them there was no doubt that the were eating the heads. We surmised that they were bedding in the center of this 20 acre field, and before they would venture off to the clover/alfalfa fields, they would have their fill. This behavior continued for almost a month as the heads turned brown - then it waned and the farmer combined the field.

Since then, I haven't seen the deer in any other barley plots he does, though the other plots are all smaller - 5-10 acres.
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Old 07-31-2004, 05:37 AM
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Location: Nanjemoy, MD
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Default RE: Deer Eating Ripe Wheat

- I plant several small winter wheat field plots in the fall (So MD) as part of a crop rotation scheme, and leave them standing until the seed heads are stripped - usually by early July. Deer will get in there as soon as the seed has hardened, and not quit until it's all gone. A 1/4+ A plot of ww can disappear within a week once the deer focus on it. So, mature ww plots may not be of much value for hunting purposes, but I make them part of the summer nutrition "banquet". I have other "summer plots" with chicory or alfalfa, but the ww is preferred once it ripens.
- fsh
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