I have found round-up ready soybeans to be the ultimate plant for food plotters. However, not all soybeans are created equal. I strongly recommend a round-up ready forage bean as opposed to traditional ag beans planted by farmers. I have used both Eagle and Real World brand beans and give both two thumbs up. If you plant anything less than four acres in S.E. Ohio you will need to fence the deer out with an electric fence. I will cover cost and method at the end of this article.
Planting beans without a planter can be easily accomplished. Start by killing the vegetation with 2 quarts per acre of round up or a generic glyphosate product at least 2 weeks before tilling or disking. Disk or till the plot as soon as the ground is dry enough in the spring. There is absolutely no need to till or disk any deeper than four inches. Shoot for a late May early June planting date. Follow these simple but crucial steps and you will soon have a stand of beans that will make any farmer proud.
- Broadcast 75 lbs of soybeans per acre
- Broadcast 200 lbs of 6-24-24 or its equivalent per acre
- Lightly till or disk in seed and fertilizer. It is best to make a dbl pass and be sure to not bury seed too deep. A depth of ½ inch is ideal.
- Make two passes over the field with a cultipacker. You will still have some seed laying on the surface and the cultipacker will give these seeds a great chance of germinating with the first significant rain event.
- 3 to 4 weeks after planting spray field with 2 quarts of round-up per acre. Don’t worry about running over the young beans with a tractor or 4-wheeler. They bounce back just fine.
- In late August or early September broadcast 100 lbs of cereal rye grain per acre right on top of the standing beans.
In order for your plot to put on the tonnage needed to make your investment worthwhile I strongly recommended the erecting of an electric fence around the perimeter of the plot. I have had great success with a total of five strands of electric wire on two levels. The outside wire or the wire the deer first encounters is two strands set at approximately 16 and 36 inches high. The inside row is three feet inside of the outside row and has three wires set at 6, 36, and 60 inches. It is important to hold the bottom inside wire at 6 inches all the way around the plot. This prevents rabbits and groundhogs from feasting on your tender young bean sprouts. Use T posts spaced at 30 feet apart and plastic or fiberglass step in electric fence posts between the T posts. The fiberglass step in posts are very instrumental in keeping your poly wire at the desired height. Make sure to solidly anchor all corner posts. I know guys who actually set treated 4x4s at each corner. I prefer to use a 30 inch long piece of 7/8 inch rebar driven in the ground at a 45 degree angle. I simply wire the T post to the rebar for a cheap yet sturdy and moveable system. There are numerous solar fence chargers to choose from. I had good luck with the Paramak brand. Make sure to use a quality ground rod and drive it in the ground as deep as possible.
Allow the soybeans to reach maturity inside of the electric fence. Sometime in early to mid August you should take down the entire fence. Do not just turn off the charger and let the deer get comfortable going under or through the fence. If the fence is up it should be HOT and that’s a fact Jack. Deer will immediately gravitate to the field and begin hammering the green tonnage the beans provide. If you choose Eagle or Real World beans they will probably be five feet tall or taller at this time! When the beans start to turn yellow and loose their leaves the deer will briefly quit using the field. This often coincides with the dropping of acorns. However, the dying leaves will allow sunlight to once again reach the soil and the cereal rye you broadcast in late August early September will grow nicely alongside the now dying beans. Around late October the deer will begin eating the bean pods and they will not stop until every, and I mean EVERY pod is gone. The rye will continue to be a good draw and also help to build organic matter into your soil. The beans will have fixed a lot of Nitrogen in the soil and you will now be ready for a rocking brassica plot the following summer.
The cost of planting soybeans is about 300 to 350 dollars per acre. In order to fence the plot you can figure on 500 dollars for the first acre and 250 dollars for every acre after that. Unlike seed, fertilizer, chemicals, gas, and diesel fuel the electric fence is for the most part a one time purchase. Hobbies and hunting should be fun so always remember you are farming to feed deer not your family.