Hunting > Whitetails

Deer Nutrition Comes of Age (Page 2)

Ray Scott dreamed of growing big things from tiny clover seeds and two decades later, millions of acres are being planted for wildlife.

Customer Profile


What percentage of your customers are hunters?
Ninety-nine percent.

What kind of geographic customer spread have you observed over the years?
Because we are the company that started the food-plot revolution, we were able to capture a large and geographically diverse customer base. Our customers represent America's most passionate hunters. And passionate hunters aren't in a specific geographic region. What we have found, with very few exceptions, is our geographic customer base closely resembles a state-by-state breakdown of licensed hunters. For example, if 10 percent of the total number of hunters are in Michigan, 9 to 11 percent of our business will come from Michigan. If 8 percent of the total number of hunters are from Tennessee, 7 to 9 percent of our business will come from Tennessee. This is true for Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri and virtually every state in the eastern half of the country.

Have your customers changed in terms of the knowledge they bring?
Light years. Twenty years ago we frequently had to explain what a food plot was. Now we are explaining the differences between what phosphorus and potassium do for plants. The knowledge our customers have varies depending on how long they have been food-plotting and how passionate they are. It has been extremely rewarding to see that degree of involvement, especially since more than 80 percent have no prior background in agriculture.

Plantings
For 20 years Imperial Whitetail Clover has been one of the market's strongest brands - has it lived up to expectations?

It is the "gold standard" of food-plot products, the one that started the food-plot revolution and remains the market leader today. It is what allowed us to start investing heavily in R&D, which has led to the development of many new products and the improvement of Imperial Whitetail Clover itself.

In our continuing effort to ensure Imperial Whitetail remains No. 1, we test different clovers from all over the world and when we discover something that can upgrade palatability, cold hardiness, drought resistance, seedling vigor, etc., we incorporate it into our products. Most significant are two new clovers, Advantage and Insight, which were developed by our agronomists. They are the only clover varieties genetically engineered specifically for deer and are only available in Whitetail Institute products.

Is clover still the king of food-plot forages?
Yes, though we'd qualify that by saying Imperial Whitetail Clover is.

Is it advantageous to diversify plantings? If so, why?
Yes, providing sufficient land is available. A hunter or land manager working a small area will obviously be limited, and so he needs to match the best perennial crop to the soil he's planting. If, for example, it is fertile soil that holds moisture, Imperial Whitetail Clover is his best choice. If he has a well-drained soil, then either Alfa Rack Plus or Extreme would be best. When there's more ground available, one should seriously consider diversifying, somewhere along the line of 60 to 75 percent in perennials and the balance in annuals. Deer like variety and prefer different foods at different times of the year.

Clover is a perennial and a favorite deer food year-round. It provides great attraction but also very high protein levels, which benefits general health, antler growth, fetal development, doe lactation and fawn growth. Another top perennial is our Chicory Plus, which will be hit all year and is extremely deep-rooted and drought resistant. It also provides high protein content.
 PowerPlant is an annual that grows extremely fast, produces lots of tonnage and high protein over the spring and summer and is extremely attractive to deer. Annuals like No-Plow, Pure Attraction and Winter-Greens make great late-summer/fall plantings and are often at their peak during hunting seasons. Pure Attraction is a blend of winter-hardy oats and brassicas. The oats attract early-season attention, and the brassicas are hard to beat after a hard frost. We had a head start on brassicas, too, first offering it as a food plot product in 1992 in our No-Plow blend, then again with Winter-Greens in 2006.

Approximately how many different deer forages are planted today? For beginner to intermediate planters, what are some of the most important?
Clover, alfalfa, corn, beans, peas, oats, rye, wheat, buckwheat, chicory, brassicas and the list can go on.

Beyond emphasizing that clover is No. 1, it's tough to rank the rest. Variables like local weather and soil types can play a big part in choosing what to plant. It should also be noted that there are hundreds of different clover varieties, and their performance can vary drastically. Some aren't nearly as attractive as others, some maintain vigor longer, and the protein provided can vary greatly as well.

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