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When to Plant Turnips for Deer

When to Plant Turnips for Deer

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Turnips are root vegetables that many people like to plant to help feed animals. They can be good for feeding livestock, but humans like to eat turnips as well.

These are good to grow because they’re high in fiber and have lots of vitamins. They can be a great source of iron, calcium, folate, and thiamine.

Although planting turnips to eat isn’t a bad idea, you might be more interested in planting them to attract deer. They can be very good for attracting deer to an area, and many people use turnips as a part of a food plot strategy.

When should you be planting turnips if you want to use them to attract deer, though? Keep reading to learn more about when to plant turnips when you’re trying to use them specifically to attract deer.

Plant Turnips in the Fall

Generally, the best time to plant turnips when you’re using them to attract deer will be the fall. You want to plant the turnips for the deer before you experience your first hard freeze, and this means that fall is the best time.

Turnips are going to need approximately fifty-five days from the time you seed them until they reach maturity. This is assuming that you’re using one of the most popular turnip varieties, such as purple top turnips.

If you do this, then you should have a pretty good time with the turnips. They’ll turn out nicely and will have nice green tops while also producing turnips that are of decent moderate size.

If you plant the turnips too late, then things won’t work out well, but you also don’t want to go too early. It can be kind of hard to give an exact date to plant the turnips for the deer because of differences in weather patterns in different areas.

For instance, if you’re living in a colder part of the Midwest, then you might experience a deep freeze in the autumn. Some people in colder parts of North America have to plant turnips in August to get the best results, but you’ll just have to be mindful of your local weather patterns to get things right.

Why Are Turnips So Good for Deer?

A Deer in the Vegetable Garden

Turnips are good for deer because they can provide them with the protein that they need. The turnips will be a good source of protein for the deer and both the tops and roots provide that protein.

It’s good to know that deer like to eat the leafy tops of the turnips as well as the turnips themselves. Sometimes the turnips will be referred to as the taproot when you’re looking up information about them.

You should note that turnips are so good to plant in your food plots because they can fill a nutrition gap for the deer during the winter months. You see, deer don’t usually like to eat the tops of the turnips until they have matured a bit.

Before the turnip tops have matured, they’re going to taste a bit bitter, and this might be off-putting to the deer. Once the first frost sets in, the turnip tops are going to start to become sweet.

The turnip leaves stick around during the winter, and it gives the local deer something that they can eat. You can see why turnips are such a valuable part of many food plot strategies now.

Which Turnip Type Is Best for Deer?

When you’re trying to pick out a specific turnip type for the deer in the area, it’s going to be good to consider many factors. There are a large number of different turnip varieties, and deer will eat turnips pretty much no matter what.

Even so, some turnip types are going to be easy for the deer to eat. Purple tops might be the best choice to put in your food plot because they’ll be easy for the deer to get to.

The purple tops are great because they stick out of the ground enough that the deer have easy access to them. It makes it so that the deer can easily eat the tops and then also eat the roots.

If you choose to plant purple top turnips in your food plot, then you’ll be able to get very good results overall. The deer will be able to get plenty of protein from the turnips and you’ll have more healthy deer on your property during the next hunting season.

Of course, you’re going to have to take care of the turnips properly to get things to turn out so nicely. Thankfully, turnips aren’t that hard to care for, but there are still some things that you should know.

The Best Soil for Turnips

Harvesting Turnips

Now it’s time to learn a bit about how you can grow turnips properly so that the deer will get the best nutrition possible. If you want the turnips in your food plot to grow healthy, then you’ll need to consider many factors.

The type of soil that you plant your turnips in will play a big role in how they will do overall. A good fertile soil is going to make it easier for the turnips to grow quickly.

Many types of soil will do just fine, but loam is going to be a good one to go with to get good results. This should have the right nutrients that turnips need to thrive, and it should be easy to maintain the right acidity levels.

Turnips grow best in soil that has a pH balance between 6.5 and 6.8. It’s also imperative to plant turnips in well-draining soil because they can experience root rot if they don’t drain properly between watering sessions.

The soil should also be a little bit loose to ensure that the roots can grow properly. Aerate the soil well and you should be able to see the turnips thrive in your food plot.

Spread Turnips Out Properly

Spreading turnips out properly will be important when you want them to grow as well as they can. When turnips are crowded, it makes it so that the roots will be smaller than usual.

Sometimes crowding can even lead to really bad results such as the roots becoming malformed. It might be tempting to try to cram as many turnip seeds in a small food plot area as you can, but this is likely not for the best.

To get the best results, you should try to space the turnips out so that they are approximately four inches from one another. You could place them as far as six inches apart, but many people stick closer to four inches so that they can grow as many turnips in their food plots as possible.

Note that it’s important to place seedlings four inches high as well. If you do things right, then you should be able to have the best shot at growing healthy turnips that will appeal to the local deer population.

Eliminating Weeds Might Be Good

Weeding Vegetable Garden

Weeds can be somewhat of a problem when you’re growing turnips. This is why many people who grow turnips in their food plots will at least do some minor weeding here and thing to keep things on track.

It might be beneficial to take the time to weed the food plot area a bit when you get a chance. This should keep the growth of the turnips going in the right direction.

You do need to be careful about not disturbing the roots of your young turnips, though. This means that you should weed carefully and try not to accidentally pull up any of your young turnips or otherwise disturb them.

If you weren’t planting turnips on a food plot, then using mulch would be an ideal solution. You aren’t likely going to want to do that since you want the deer to be attracted to the area.

Just try to weed a bit if you want the turnips to thrive, but understand that you don’t need to go overboard. Even if you don’t weed, things will probably be okay, but weeding can be beneficial.

Turnips Grow Best in Full Sun

If you have the chance to place your food plot in full sun, then the turnips will grow best that way. Turnips grow really well when they’re given full sunlight, and they generally like temperatures that range between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

There isn’t anything you can do about the temperature, but you can try to give the turnips as much sunlight as you can. Do your best to plant the turnips in a location where they will receive ample amounts of sunlight.

If you can’t give the turnips full sunlight, then it should still be okay. Just try to ensure that they get enough light that they can do well.

You have to place food plots in spots where the deer will feel comfortable stopping to graze. This means that there are likely trees nearby and tall grass.

There could be a bit more shade than you would normally like to see when caring for turnips. This can still be okay, but you can just try to position the turnips in the most convenient and sunny spot that you can in the food plot area.

Ensure That the Turnips Have Consistent Moisture

Watering Garden

Ensuring that the turnips have consistent moisture is another important part of the process. You’re going to want to try to keep the soil lightly moist if you can.

You don’t need to go overboard with watering the turnips to get good results, but the soil shouldn’t become dry. If you water the turnips too much, then you could wind up causing root rot, which would be a very bad thing.

Essentially, you don’t want to make the soil soggy or damp because that would be too much. If you’re watering the turnips yourself, then try not to go further than making the soil lightly moist if you can help it.

It’s said that turnips should do well enough with approximately one inch of rain each week. Since you’ll be placing the turnips in a food plot that is likely a fair distance from your home, it might be necessary to go out of your way to check on the food plot if it hasn’t rained much lately.

Consistent watering is one of the most crucial aspects of raising turnips properly. Do what you can and keep an eye on weather forecasts to ensure that the turnips are getting the moisture that they need.

Final Thoughts

Knowing when to plant turnips for deer should help you to get the best results possible. You want to try to plant the turnips for the deer in the autumn, but the exact time can vary depending on certain factors.

If you live in a place where things freeze earlier than usual, then it might be necessary to plant turnips as early as August. Otherwise, it might be fine to plant in September or even November depending on when your first big freeze typically occurs.

It’s important to pay attention to the weather patterns in your area. Use what you know about the local climate to decide a good time to plant turnips for deer.

Aside from knowing when to plant the turnips, it’s also going to be important to know how to care for them. You’re going to need to plant the turnips in the right soil so that they will grow as they should.

Paying attention to the sunlight conditions and the watering schedule of the turnips will also help. If you can take care of the turnips in the food plot properly, then they will be able to provide the deer in your yard with great nutritional value.

There are many other types of vegetables that you can choose to grow in your food plot area that can help out, too. It’s good to give the deer a bit of variety so that they will stick around the area.

Take everything that you learned and use it so that you can attract more deer to your property. You’ll be able to feed the deer well and this should lead to a very successful next hunting season.


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