Best Fall Food Plot Species for the Midwest
What Fall Food Plot Species Should You Plant?
Here in the Midwest, fall food plots can be very effective tools for deer hunting success. Depending on where you hunt and what you plant, food plots can be absolute magnets this time of year. But what you plant is very important if you want the hunting outcome to play out correctly. Here are some reasons fall food plots work so well in the Midwest and some great fall food plot species that you should definitely plant.
Why Deer Crave Fall Food Plots
Cool-season food plots are so attractive because it’s a critical time of the year for whitetails in the Midwest. Winters are typically harsh and food availability is significantly reduced, so this is the fourth quarter of the game and time to pack on as much last-minute weight as possible. Additionally, since bucks tend to run themselves down during the rut, these Midwest food plots can be a critical source of quality nutrition for them, which helps them bounce back quicker and not enter winter at such a deficit. These food plots are especially important if the area you hunt has little other native food sources or agricultural food sources (e.g., corn, soybeans, alfalfa fields).
While whitetails require lots of protein during the summer to optimize their body and antler growth, a different nutrient is needed in the fall. Instead, deer crave carbohydrates the most this time of year, because they provide the most energy and help deer to convert it into fat on their bodies. That’s why apples and acorns are so attractive as well – they pack a lot of carbs in each bite. Thus, any fall food plot species you plant should be able to produce the maximum tonnage of carbohydrates in a short time period.
Best Fall Food Plot Species
With that in mind, here are some of the best fall food plot species you can plant in the Midwest to attract a lot of whitetails and potentially give yourself the edge to arrow a mature buck.
- Brassicas – you’ve no doubt heard about brassicas for deer before. This term often refers to radishes, turnips, rape, or kale varieties. They are extremely effective for deer hunting in the Midwest because they grow fast and provide a lot of tonnage per acre due to their combination of huge leafy greens and often large bulbs (in the case of radishes or turnips at least). While the leaves are high in protein, the bulbs are loaded with carbs. Many brassicas actually perform better after colder weather hits, because the frost can convert the plant’s starches into sugars.
- Cereal Grains – another wonderful option for autumn food plots are cereal grains (i.e., oats, wheat, cereal rye). These grains are super easy to plant (simply broadcast and cultipack) and grow quickly to produce a very palatable plant with lots of carbs. They are also often a good “filler” plant when you have some bare soil or want to thicken the plot a bit.
- Clover – most people think of clover as a great spring forage, which it is. But truth be told, perennial clovers are cool-season plants, so they bounce back in the fall and provide a lot of tender forage for deer. Annual clovers for deer are a better short-term solution if you want to plant and hunt something this fall. Arrowleaf and crimson clovers grow fast and provide great foraging opportunities for deer in the fall.
- Corn – If you have access to larger farming equipment or even have some existing larger crop fields, corn can be a great fall food source for deer. While most people don’t typically grow it specifically as a fall food plot, it is loaded with carbs and can provide shelter for deer if you keep a large enough block of it standing (i.e., the minimum size should be a few acres). The problem is, you need to plant it in the spring to let it mature in time for fall and winter nutrition, which is why it’s typically not included as a fall food plot species.
If you want to plant the best fall food plot possible, consider combining these food plot plants together or planting pure stands close together. This smorgasbord of highly palatable and nutritious plants will certainly attract the deer.