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    July Planted Soybean Food Plot in Central Illinois

    Every year, it is a debate as to when soybean food plots should be planted. Many plant them the first opportunity they get. However, that gets irritating when they are brown by October 1 and the deer are eating the neighbors beans that were planted later than yours. Early in the fall, the deer feed on the soybean leaves. That is their main attraction. That is why products like Eagle Seed beans are becoming popular, because they produce a large forage leaf. However, the actual pods become important as the winter hits. Deer switch to eating the actual beans for protein. Grant Woods, a leading deer biologist, has always proclaimed that Illinois residents should plant their beans in early July for best output. To me, this always seemed too risky so I never attempted it. I had typically planted them in early to mid June. This year, the weather forced me to do something different. I was not able to plant my beans until mid July. My fear was that they would not have time to grow to maturity and produce pods. Here are the results…

    You can see that they beans have grown quite well. They are not quite as tall as most of the earlier planted beans but I attribut that partly to the deer. They are eating these beans over beans planted earlier in the season so their growth is somewhat limited by the deer. Also, you can see that the weed pressure is pretty limited. Typically, in areas of high deer density, we struggle with weed competition. The deer eat the beans so fast that they are not able to canopy. Consequently, the dirt between the rows is continuously exposed to the sun…resulting in a lot of weeds. It is not uncommon for us to have to hit our bean foodplots with Round Up three or four times a year. This foodplot was planted so late that we only had to spray it once before the weeds were essentially dormant. My next concern was pod production.
    You can see that the plants produced quite a bit of pods. Each individual plant had five or six medium size pods. I am not claiming to be a farmer or know anything about true harvest, but to me this seems pretty adequate for deer consumption. I have planted eagle seed beans before and they do not produce this many pods. So overall, I am pretty happy with the July planted soybean foodplot. I would assume that it will stay green into early November. Should make for some good early season hunting!

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