Imperial Whitetail Alfa-Rack Plus… It’s All About the Formula!

By Whitetail Institute Staff

 If you’re looking for a high-protein perennial forage product designed for top performance and versatility in good, well-drained soils, look no further than Imperial Whitetail Alfa-Rack Plus.
Although Alfa-Rack Plus has a lot in common with other Whitetail Institute forage blends, it’s very unique in other ways. In this article, we’ll look at what characteristics Alfa-Rack Plus shares with other Whitetail Institute forages and what makes it so distinctive.

 Look for the Brand

One thing Alfa-Rack Plus shares with every other Whitetail Institute forage product are the words Imperial Whitetail, right on the front of the package. That’s the Whitetail Institute brand, and the Whitetail Institute didn’t choose it by chance. Quite the opposite: Whitetail speaks for itself, and Imperial defines the nature of all Whitetail Institute products, including Alfa- Rack PLUS. You’ll understand why if you look up imperial in a dictionary. When I checked several dictionaries, I found one definition of imperial they all had in common: “In the nature of supreme quality.” That definitely describes Alfa-Rack Plus. Like every Whitetail Institute product, Alfa-Rack Plus is the result of the Whitetail Institute process; true scientific research, development and real-world testing on free-ranging deer across North America, followed by detailed product preparation to ensure top performance.

Components and Product Preparation Perennial Clover.

Whitetail Institute forage products contain plant varieties available only in Institute products. An example is the perennial clover in Alfa-Rack Plus, which was scientifically created by the Whitetail Institute through repeated cycles of cross-breeding and goal oriented selection for traits such as attractiveness to whitetails, protein content and sustained palatability.

Forage-Type Alfalfa.

Alfa-Rack Plus also contains alfalfa — but not just any alfalfa. The alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus are true forage alfalfas (a/k/a grazing alfalfas), which are different from ordinary haytype alfalfas in some important ways. Perhaps the most important difference is that the grazing alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus grow more leaf relative to stem than ordinary hay-type alfalfas. Why is that so important? The answer lies with the small-ruminant digestive system of deer. Cattle and deer are ruminant animals, meaning in simplest terms that they chew cud and have four-chambered stomachs. When cattle and deer take in food, they go through a process of chewing, swallowing, regurgitating and re-chewing it (cud) until it’s sufficiently broken down for the animal’s stomach to digest it. There, digestive organisms use the cud to provide nutrients for the animal. There’s a very important difference, though, between the ruminant digestive systems of cattle and deer: Unlike cattle, deer are small ruminants, which means they can’t effectively use tougher, stemmier forages like cattle can. Accordingly, forage for deer must be highly palatable (of the most tender, succulent sort). If you’ve ever seen deer grazing in agricultural alfalfa fields planted and harvested for hay for cattle, you’ve likely seen the proof yourself. Through time, you might have noticed that the deer were attracted to it soon after planting when the plants were young, less attracted after it started to get tall, and then attracted to it again soon after mowing as the plants put on new growth. The reason that happens is one of the best examples you’ll find of how important palatability is to deer. The grazing alfalfas in Alfa-Rack Plus have been selected by the Whitetail Institute through real-world testing on free-ranging deer for their sustained palatability over all other alfalfa varieties tested by the Whitetail Institute.

WINA-100 Perennial Forage Chicory.

Alfa-Rack Plus also contains WINA-100 chicory. This specially selected chicory variety is superior to other chicory varieties traditionally planted for deer in one very important way: Unlike other chicories, which can become stemmy and waxy, WINA-100 chicory remains tender and highly attractive to deer even as it matures.

Annual Clovers.

In addition to its perennial forage components, Alfa-Rack Plus contains specially selected annual clovers to fill a specific role: rapid stand establishment. Generally, when a perennial seed germinates, it begins building its roots and has to get part of that process done before it pushes a shoot above the surface. The perennials in Alfa-Rack Plus are designed to establish and grow quickly, exhibit early plant vigor and begin attracting deer right away. Because annuals generally have smaller root systems than perennials, they appear above ground even more quickly in most cases. The difference might be so slight that you won’t even notice it. Even so, the Whitetail Institute took the extra step of adding the annual clovers to ensure that your Alfa-Rack Plus plot can establish as rapidly as the Whitetail Institute could achieve.

Rainbond Seed Coating.

To the Whitetail Institute, product quality isn’t measured just by how much effort goes into selecting and combining forage varieties. It’s not about what the Whitetail Institute does, but what the customer sees for himself. It’s about results. That’s why the Institute is never satisfied with just making sure a forage product contains only the finest forage components in the best ratios. It makes the same effort to ensure that each product is prepared for planting to help customers get the thick, lush, attractive food plots they want in the real world. A big part of that is the Whitetail Institute’s Rainbond seed coating. Rainbond isn’t just any old seed coating. It’s very high-tech and packed with features that serve several functions, all of which maximize the ability of the seeds to survive and grow vigorously. An especially important function of Rainbond is to protect the seedlings from dying from lack of water. Like human infants, plants are at their most vulnerable to death from lack of water when they’re very young. Uncoated seed can germinate when exposed to very tiny amounts of water, and if there isn’t enough moisture in the soil to sustain the seedling, it can die. Rainbond protects the seeds from germinating when there’s insufficient moisture in the soil. When there is enough moisture, it penetrates the coating and the seed germinates. But Rainbond doesn’t stop there. It also contains polymer beads that absorb up to 200 times their weight in water and keep it right next to the seed as it germinates. And as the seedling uses that moisture, Rainbond continues to replenish itself by drawing more moisture from the soil, giving the young seedlings a better chance to survive and flourish.


Some seeds require soil bacteria to grow and thrive. Examples are clover and alfalfa. These bacteria are specific to the plant type. It’s so important that seed stores sell these bacteria as inoculant, which must be mixed with raw seed before planting. Whitetail Institute seed coatings take care of that for you. They contain the correct inoculant for the product and keep it right next to the seed.

Protein Levels.

When it comes to delivering protein for deer, Alfa- Rack Plus is in the top category of forage products for deer. One reason is protein content. Alfa-Rack Plus can produce tons of forage with protein levels as high as 35 percent. And remember, because Alfa- Rack Plus is highly palatable and attractive, it gets that protein where you need it — into your deer.

Variety and Versatility

We’ve talked about some of the quality and performance goals the Whitetail Institute set in its research, development, testing and product development for Alfa-Rack Plus, such as attractiveness, disease resistance, high protein content, rapid stand establishment, and heat, cold and drought tolerance. There are additional benefits that you might not have thought of, even though the Whitetail Institute did. For example, like most Whitetail Institute forage products, Alfa- Rack Plus is a blend of multiple forage components. That’s because rarely will a single plant variety perform as well as the Whitetail Institute demands in all categories (attractiveness to deer, rapid establishment, cold-tolerance). Blends of complementary forages can make that a non-issue, provided, of course, that the forages are carefully selected and then blended in the optimum ratios like Alfa-Rack Plus. No matter how tasty our favorite dish is, all of us like something different once in a while, and deer are no exception. That’s why having a variety of complementary forages in the same plot can boost attraction to deer even more. Another unique characteristic of Alfa-Rack Plus is that it’s ideally suited to sites with varying soil types and slopes. The clovers tend to grow best in flat areas with good soil, and the alfalfas and chicory tend to prefer better-drained conditions. That’s why Alfa-Rack Plus is the perfect choice for a perennial in plots with some areas that are flat and others that are sloped. I have used Alfa-Rack Plus many times with great success in food plots that roll with rises and dips throughout the plot. Generally, the clovers establish in the valleys, and the alfalfas and chicory dominate on the sides and tops of the rises. The result is a thick, lush stand with no gaps in coverage. Alfa-Rack Plus is designed for good, well-drained soils. For best results, soil pH should be at least 6.5 at the time of planting. The Whitetail Institute’s recommended planting dates, and planting and maintenance instructions, are provided on the back of the product bags as well as at If you have any questions about Alfa-Rack Plus, give the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consultants a call at (800) 688-3030. The call and the service are free.