Rye Grass for Whitetail Deer Food Plots

Rye is a cool-season cereal grain that is less preferred than oats or wheat, but is still eaten readily by deer. Rye is most palatable to deer when it is young. Protein content in young, tender stems is between 14% to 16%. It is most useful when planted in a mixture with cool-season legumes. It is suitable for use in fall-planted hunting plots and as an early spring food source.

Site requirements of rye
Of the cereal grains rye is most winter hardy and drought tolerant. It will grow on a variety of soil conditions including sandy soils and low acidity. It is less tolerant of wet sites than wheat. Rye grows best on well-drained soils with pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Rye is excellent for no-till planting.

Winter rye vs. spring rye
Rye is available in winter rye and less commonly in spring rye varieties. Winter rye tends to have greater production than spring rye. Occasionally you will read about “fall” rye; this is just another name for winter rye. Aroostoock is a winter hardy variety of winter rye.

Suggested forage mixtures with rye.
Rye is most beneficial to deer if it is planted in a mixture with cool-season legumes. The following are some examples of suitable forage mixtures that include rye:

rye and crimson clover or arrowleaf clover
rye, red clover and ladino clover
rye, red clover, ladino clover and birdsfoot trefoil

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