The Benefits of Blends Why Limit Plots to a Single Plant?

By David Hart
Blends can excel
when single-species
plots won't. Some
plants may go
dormant during
extreme heat
or cold while
others remain,
giving the deer
a variety of choices
throughout the

There’s no doubt a single-plant food plot can give you a great place to hang a tree stand. A stand of alfalfa or clover can also be a reliable source of high-quality forage that can help bucks grow better antlers. Imperial Clover is one of the best, if not the best, all-purpose food plot product available. It’s not only good for deer, it’s great for deer hunting, especially during early fall. But in some regions, clover goes dormant in late winter and offers less benefit to deer or hunter. When the clover disappears, so do the deer. You could plant brassicas if you want a late-season hunting plot. Deer hammer it after the plant has been hit by a frost, and they stay on it until the plant has been reduced to roots. But that means you’ll have to wait until cold weather sets in before you can expect to see any deer.


So what should you do? The obvious solution is to plant both in the same field. Instead of guessing the best seeding rate for each plant, however, grab a pre-mixed blend like Whitetail Institute’s Double Cross, a mix of clover and brassicas. Blends offer a variety of foods in one plot, giving deer a solid reason to stay on your property not just part of the hunting season, but all of it. Just as we can’t get all our nutritional needs from a salad or a steak, deer need a variety of foods to survive. Blends give them what they need when they need it.

“We design our blends to give hunters and deer the maximum benefit from a food plot," Whitetail Institute Vice-President Steve Scott said. "A blend not only gives the deer a choice, it gives hunters more opportunity to see deer throughout the hunting season because one plant might be prime in October while another is most attractive in November or December."

That’s because the plants in a typical blend don’t always grow at the same rate. Whitetail Institute’s Pure Attraction, for example, includes oats and winter peas, which germinate quickly and grow fast, providing an almost-immediate food source for your deer. The third ingredient in Pure Attraction is brassicas. Deer often won’t touch that plant until a frost has changed the palatability of the plant. In fact, brassicas have become one of the hottest late-season food plot choices for that reason. Unfortunately, hunters who only plant brassicas are missing out on an extended opportunity to hunt one food plot.


Choosing the best blend isn’t as easy as grabbing the first bag you see. Whitetail Institute offers more than a dozen different seed blends. All attract deer, but each one includes different seed blends for different situations and different purposes. Thankfully, choosing the right one isn’t really difficult.

By their nature, blends offer a variety of plants that draw whitetails throughout the life of the food plot. Some are designed to attract deer during fall and winter, but others provide high-quality, nutritious forage throughout the summer when bucks are growing antlers and does are nursing.

“Attraction plots are usually cool-season plots that include clover, brassicas, peas or oats — things that provide a food source throughout the fall and winter. Those are the plots you are going to hunt over,” Scott said. “In some cases, you will have hunting opportunities over warm-season plots, but those tend to diminish as the season progresses, particularly in the North.”

Annual warm season forage blends are usually planted in spring and are designed to provide high protein and other vital nutrients. Hunters all across the U.S. report their warm season food plots have resulted in healthier bucks with better antlers. Whitetails that have access to high-quality forage in summer go into winter in better health, giving them better odds of surviving harsh conditions.

Some warm season forage blends include annuals like sunflowers, peas, beans and sorghum, but others have perennials like chicory and alfalfa. Attraction blends can also include perennials like clover.

What you choose also depends on your plots themselves. Although all food plot plants need at least three to four hours of sunlight, some have different moisture requirements. Scott said alfalfa, for example, does well in drier soils because it has a deep tap root. So does chicory. Clover does best in ground that holds more moisture. Sometimes combining those three in one plot can give you enough variety to cover all the bases.

“Alfa-Rack Plus, which has clover, chicory and alfalfa, can be ideal for that situation,” Scott said. “A perfect example might be if you are in hilly country and plan to plant on a plot that is sloped on one end and flat on the other. Alfalfa might do better on the higher ground that doesn’t hold moisture, but clover will excel in the lower, wetter part of the plot. A lot of times, you might have just enough moisture over the entire plot that all the plants will thrive. A blend covers all the bases.”

Some, like Whitetail Institute’s new Edge, includes perennial plants like alfalfa, chicory, sanfoin and a fast-growing annual clover. Edge makes a great summer nutrition plot, but also a super place to hang a tree stand, particularly for early-season bow-hunters.

The obvious advantage of a perennial blend is the reduced effort and cost. Plant them once, and you’re set for several years. Annuals offer their own advantages: They can be somewhat easier to establish and weed control can be a little easier, too.
By offering your deer a variety of foods
in a single plot, you stand a better
chance of seeing and harvesting
more deer throughout the entire season.


 “The best advice I can give is to split up your plots and plant a couple of different blends. That way, you can see what works best for you and your deer,” advises Scott. “The more choices you have — and the deer have — the better off you’ll be, no matter what you choose. For example, plant half your plot in a perennial like Imperial Whitetail Clover and the other half in Pure Attraction.” Even better, by choosing a blend you won’t have to answer the age-old food plot question: Which one? Instead, you can simply say “all of the above.”

If you have more questions, call the Whitetail Institute at (800) 688- 3030. Scott said he and fellow staff members not only are willing to offer sound advice, but they enjoy talking food plots and deer hunting. “It’s what we love to do,” he said.