I can’t wait to get this Dream Team in food plots from Oklahoma to Maine and on properties in between! If you knew of a high yielding forage that outperformed the famed alfalfa and was easier to grow wouldn’t you want to plant it for deer? It has been reported that forage chicory growth rates during peak growing periods can be upwards of 73 lbs. PER ACRE PER DAY! While traveling to visit with clients I’m constantly amazed with the level to which chicory is underutilized. It’s a fact that forage chicory has a greater mineral content and is more digestible than alfalfa: the queen of forage! If that doesn’t impress you consider that forage chicory yields are high (up to 6 tons/acre reported in Pennsylvania trials) and protein levels climbing over 30% are commonly reported in forage quality tests. A forage that has tremendous quality, digestible energy and high yielding potential that is also 95% digestible is an all-star in my book! Throw in chicory’s winter hardiness and the fact that research has revealed anti-parasitic properties in small ruminants I’m thinking Hall of Fame!
When you consider the fact that chicory contains high levels of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur and zinc it’s no wonder why independent studies report exceptional animal performance as a result of feeding on forage chicory. All of these characteristics during the critical months when bucks are growing antlers and does are pregnant, fawning and lactating makes chicory a must have food plot product.
As a perennial forb, chicory performs very well when planted with companion legumes such as clover and alfalfa. Chicory’s deep tap root enables it to continue to perform strong in the warmer “summer slump” months when clover is dormant. You couldn’t ask for a better complementary relationship. Their deep tap roots make chicory our clutch “go-to” player during drought conditions.
For 2015 I’m excited to recruit a proven chicory variety into a blend with three of my favorite clover varieties.
WHAT’S IN THE BAG FOR THE 2015 GROWING SEASON?
Forage Feast Chicory
- Optimal companion plant for clover
- High protein perennial herbaceous favorite of white-tailed deer
- Drought tolerant due to its deep taproot (takes over when clover is inactive)
- Winter hardy
- Highly digestible and attractive to whitetails
- Adds weight to animals during the growing season
- Mineral packed during the growing season for antler growth in bucks and lactation rates in does
Alice White Clover
- Perennial favorite of Jason’s and Drop-Tine Wildlife clients
- Winter hardy & persistent
- Large, showy leaves (production)
- Tall & vigorous growth
- High protein & energy values
- Spreads by aggressively branching stolons
- High nitrogen fixation
Freedom! MR Clover
- Improved winter-hardiness and persistence (uncommon in red clovers)
- High yielding
- Aggressive establishment
- Thin stems
- High forage quality
- Highly palatable and nutritious
RegalGraze Ladino Clover
- A true ladino clover that is widely adapted across the whitetails range
- Large, dark green leaves
- Showy, upright growth habit
- Fine stems
- Tolerant of heavy grazing pressure
- Rejuvenates via active stolon growth or self-seeding
- Disease tolerant/resistant
Why we developed this blend
The chicory component was added to three of Jason’s longtime favorite clover varieties to make this clover/chicory mix shine. All deer managers have identified the inactive growth period of even the best clover varieties during the hot, dry summer months. Fortunately, chicory takes center stage during those months due to its deep tap root and ability to mine deep for water and minerals. The summer months are crucial for whitetails as does are nourishing rapidly growing fetuses and bucks are growing antlers. Failing to supply crucial minerals to bucks during the growing season can result in lost inches and body mass in the fall/winter. Forage Feast chicory was selected for its ability to do very well across the entire whitetail’s range as well as for its high ranking winter-hardiness. One 25# bag will plant slightly more than 2.5 acres and when managed properly with a well-developed fertility program and a chemical-based weed management plan this plot will produce for 5 or more years, as it has on Drop-Tine Farms in Pennsylvania. Deer will also dig up the tap roots during the winter months for their high energy, attraction and nutritional content.