Imperial Whitetail Clover – Still the Number-One Food Plot Planting in the World!

By Whitetail Institute Staff

It has been an incredible ride since 1988, when the Whitetail Institute was founded.  Since then, the average annual number of record-book deer has increased over 500% as more and more hunters and managers began practicing quality deer management.  Through it all Imperial Whitetail Clover has remained the number-one food plot planting in the world.  Let’s look at why.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Imperial Whitetail Clover continues to reign supreme as a whitetail food-plot product is that it is still the only clover product ever genetically built specifically for whitetail deer food plots.  The perennial clovers in the blend were created by breeding other clovers toward target goals, selecting only the best offspring, and then repeating the process for years.  Each time, the offspring selected for continued interbreeding were the ones that best met the Institute’s research and development goals, which included high nutrient content, early seedling vigor, tolerance of heat, cold and drought and other factors.

To explain all the reasons for Imperial Whitetail Clover’s number-one position in the market.  So, let’s just look at one factor as an example – palatability.

Consider that when it comes to food selection, whitetail deer are about as picky and finicky as it gets.  The reason is their small-ruminant digestive system.  Cattle, goats, sheep and whitetails are all “ruminant” animals, meaning that they have a four-chambered stomach.  Most digestion takes place in one of those chambers, the rumen, in which bacteria break down what the animal eats.  However, deer are unlike cattle in that deer are “small ruminants,” which means that they cannot effectively utilize tough or stemmy forages the way cattle can.  Instead, deer must have forages that are only of the most tender sort, such as the newly emerged buds and leaves of natural forages in the spring.

And that’s one of the keys to Imperial Whitetail Clover’s success:  the two perennial clovers in the blend, Advantage and Insight, were specifically bred for the unique digestive needs of deer.  One feature that makes these perennial clovers so attractive and palatable to deer, and that allows them to maintain their high palatability and nutritional content all year, is that they do not have to flower (make seeds) to keep going for years.

Why is that such a big deal?  Here’s an example most folks can identify with.  At one time or another, you’ve probably seen unwanted, natural clover growing in your lawn.  The next time you see those clovers emerge and start to grow, do a little test.  Take a close look at the clover early in its growth cycle before it flowers, and take note of two things: the size of the leaves, and how tender the stem is.  Then, check the clover again after it flowers, and you’ll likely find that the leaves are smaller and the stem much harder.  That’s because it takes lots of energy and nutrients out of a plant to flower.

That’s one reason why we recommend mowing Imperial Whitetail Clover in the spring and maybe once more in the early fall too.  Mowing to prevent Imperial Whitetail Clover to prevent flowering keeps energy and nutrients in the forage plants and helps keep the plot even more tender, lush and attractive.

Again, that’s just one reason why Imperial Whitetail Clover is at the very top of the list when it comes to forage products for deer.  There are many others.  And remember - with the Institute’s dedication to exhaustive research, development and testing, you can be sure that when the Institute finds a way to make Imperial Whitetail Clover even better, it will do so.