PowerPlant the Protein Sledgehammer

By Jon Cooner

By now, most hunters and managers know that if a buck is to grow his largest possible antlers, he must ingest the highest protein forages possible during the spring and summer antler-growing period.
That’s why the Whitetail Institute's supplies of PowerPlant ran out in 2008 even before planting dates for the South arrived. Imperial PowerPlant delivers more high-protein forage during that 200-day period than any other spring/summer product we’ve tested and the word is out! In fact, I didn’t even get any PowerPlant myself. So if you want your bucks to have the protein they need in spring and summer, to carry the largest, heaviest racks they can in fall, order PowerPlant — and order early.

As critical as protein is for antler growth, remember that spring/summer protein is not just important to bucks. The 200-day antler-growing period is also when does are in their third trimester of pregnancy and when they produce milk for their newborn fawns. Actually, protein is critical for the entire herd during spring and summer. Independent university research has shown that when it comes to delivering massive levels of high-protein forage for deer, nothing delivers the tonnage of Imperial PowerPlant. That’s why I call it the high-protein sledgehammer. There are several reasons it deserves this title.

True forage varieties: I’m not calling PowerPlant a high-protein sledgehammer just for effect. PowerPlant is just like any other tool you’d select for a specific job. For example, let’s say you need to break up an old concrete patio. What tool would you select: a standard carpentry hammer or a sledgehammer? Both would do the job, but you’d choose the sledgehammer because it will break the old concrete better and more quickly than a carpentry hammer. 

The same is true of plant types. Nowadays, bean and pea varieties are engineered to do specific jobs, and varieties designed for one thing might not do as good a job in other applications.  Consider soybeans. Agricultural soybeans are specifically designed to produce as many beans as possible for a farmer to harvest and sell. From a farmer’s perspective, the more beans a plant produces, the better. To meet that goal, an ag soybean plant must survive to the point that it can produce beans, so bean farmers might prefer that the plants are as unattractive to deer as possible to reduce crop depredation. Bean farmers don’t care how well the plants perform as forage. If you’ve observed ag beans, you’ve probably noticed they don’t perform as well as a forage source as other plant varieties. They can quickly become stemmy and unpalatable to deer, and if deer bite them off early in the growing cycle, the plants often die. That’s why ag beans are like using a carpentry hammer to break up a patio. They don’t do as good a job as soybean varieties designed to be used as deer forage. 

The soybeans in PowerPlant are true forage varieties, and that’s one reason why PowerPlant is head-and-shoulders above other forage products for spring and summer protein. Unlike agricultural beans, the soybeans in PowerPlant do not become stemmy. Instead, they produce slim, tender vines that produce loads of high-protein foliage. And after the soybean plants establish, they don’t die when deer start to graze on them. Instead, when deer bite them off, the plants produce a little knot, and several new vines sprout from the knot and continue to grow. 

All soybeans are not the same, any more than all hammers are the same. They come in numerous types, each of which is designed for a specific task. If your task is providing deer with huge quantities of high-protein forage during spring and summer, ag beans simply cannot meet your needs as well as the true forage beans in PowerPlant. That’s true of all the beans and peas in PowerPlant. They’re all true forage varieties.  

Structural components: You don't just need high-protein foliage. There must also be enough of it. That’s why PowerPlant includes small amounts of structural plants to maximize the quantity of foliage your plot produces. For example, if you’ve planted straight cow peas in summer for deer, you’ve likely made this observation: “The peas grew well for a few weeks. Then the deer found them and wiped them completely out in a matter of days.”  

PowerPlant is designed to help overcome such early overgrazing problems. As mentioned, PowerPlant uses forage varieties that help keep the plants producing. But that’s not all. PowerPlant also includes small amounts of sunflowers and an extremely high-quality wildlife sorghum, which act as a lattice for the forage plants to climb. As a result, PowerPlant grows into a wall of foliage 5 or 6 feet tall. 

The wall is also extremely dense. In fact, after your PowerPlant reaches waist height, you won’t be able to walk through it without cutting or kicking your way through. And that means not only incredible forage tonnage, but also a highly attractive bedding area for deer. 

It’s just one more benefit of the Protein Sledgehammer. One more reason to make it your spring/summer forage.

How to Get the Most From Your PowerPlant

Don’t plant until soil temperatures increase: We often say to wait to plant PowerPlant until you’re certain that any danger of a late-spring frost has passed. More accurately, the soil temperature should set your planting dates. Like any beans and peas, PowerPlant should not be planted in cool, moist soil, so be sure soil temperatures have actually started to warm and will stay consistently warm in spring before planting PowerPlant. If you’re not sure when that is in your area, check with a local farm-supply store to find out when area farmers plan to plant their soybeans. Then, plant the same weekend or even a week or two later just to be safe. 

Plant enough PowerPlant: When it comes to spring/summer annuals for deer, nothing is more graze-tolerant than PowerPlant. As mentioned, after PowerPlant establishes, it will be very hard for deer to overgraze it. To minimize the risk of early overgrazing before the PowerPlant establishes, plant enough of it. Make sure the site has enough room for you to plant at least 3/4 of an acre of PowerPlant. One 25-pound bag of PowerPlant will plant up to one acre in normal conditions. In areas of heavy deer density, increase the seeding rate, and plant 25 pounds of PowerPlant to every 3/4 acres. 

Year-round plot strategies: PowerPlant lasts until the first hard frosts of fall. After frosts arrive, PowerPlant will slowly mat down during a month or so. After that, deer might continue to use the residual beans and peas, but the forage aspect will be finished. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the plot attractive through fall and winter. Here are some strategies to help you do that and create one of the best harvest plots possible, especially for the early season. 

Most areas have a most common prevailing wind direction during hunting season (In central Alabama, the wind usually blows out of the northwest during the season.) After you determine your prevailing wind direction during hunting season, locate a permanent stand site on the downwind corner or edge of the PowerPlant plot. Then, a few weeks before the start of your fall planting window, mow lanes through the PowerPlant. Wait a few weeks for the clippings to dry, and then disk or till the clippings into the lanes, smooth the lanes with a drag or roller, and plant the lanes with an Imperial annual such as Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens or No Plow. 

In the accompanying graphic, the black lines are the perimeter of your PowerPlant plot. The bright green lines represent the lanes you’ll mow about a month before your fall planting dates and later plant in an Imperial annual. You must put in enough lane area, but not too much. You want enough to keep the plot attracting deer even after frosts, when PowerPlant begins to die, but you don’t want so many that you destroy the feeling of safety deer have in the tall, thick PowerPlant during the early season. Keep the lanes skinny; 5 to 10 feet wide might be a good rule of thumb. However, remember that although you want enough lane area, you don’t want to remove so much PowerPlant that you detract from it’s attractiveness to deer as cover. If you do it right, you’ll likely find that deer continue to live in the PowerPlant and step in and out of the lanes throughout the day during the early season. The lanes are skinny and provide a feeling of safety for deer inside the tall adjacent PowerPlant. Then, the Pure Attraction, Winter-Greens or No Plow in the lanes will make the plot an attractive source of nutrition even during the late season. 

Order early! Every fall, the Whitetail Institute starts preparing to stock up on PowerPlant for the next spring’s orders, and it does so by estimating how much demand there will be. We’ve been pretty accurate with our estimates – that is, except for Spring 2008. There was a huge rush on PowerPlant. As mentioned, I didn’t even get any. When my planting dates rolled around, supplies were gone. This year, I pre-booked my order for Spring 2009. The Institute has taken the 2008 increase in demand into account, but as always, there’s no guarantee supplies will not be exhausted early. So don’t delay if you want deer to have the protein they need this spring and possibly the biggest antlers they can by next fall. To order PowerPlant, or for information, call our highly trained in-house consultants. They are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central time, at (800) 688-3030, extension 2. The call and service are free.