Food Plot Seed: How to Plant Winter Peas

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What Is Your Preferred Food Plot Seed Option for Wildlife?

Have you ever planted winter peas? (Bill Konway photo)

Winter peas. Both deer and deer hunters love them. They’re nutritious for deer and are a great draw during most of the season. It provides hunting opportunities and helps provide needed nutrition when food sources are oftentimes limited the most.

This annual legume is a cool-season plant that’s high in protein (up to 30 percent) and can grow as tall as 4 to 5 feet. Needless to say, this provides a lot of forage and really attracts deer well. With adequate food sources in the area, it’s a great option for planting in both food and kill plots.

How to Plant

Begin by taking a soil sample. This plant species grows best in a pH range of 6.2 to 7.0. While waiting for soil test results, go ahead and spray to kill any competing plants and weeds. Once you have the results, apply fertilizer and lime as needed.

Next, break ground by using a disk. This will ensure any remaining weeds are brought down and will help prepare a good seed bed. Once the soil is cut up, and is both flat and firm, you’re ready to plant.

If broadcasting, plant at a rate of 50 to 60 pounds per are. If drilling, plant at a rate of 30 to 40 pounds per acre. If you disked and broadcasted, run over the planted area with a disk (again) or drag to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Plant seeds no deeper than ¾ of an inch.

If planting less than 2 acres, it’s best not to plant these in areas where food sources are minimal. Deer will likely consume these plants right after germination and will ultimately over-browse the food plot before it’s established.

Where to Plant

You can plant this almost anywhere in the eastern half of the country. Just pay attention to soil quality and test prior to planting. But, they do best in well-drained, loamy soils. They germinate quickly and are fairly easy to keep alive as well.

When to Plant

In the North, begin planting in late August on into September. In the South, you can afford to plant a little later. You can also plant in the spring to increase summer forage for deer, too.

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