Food Plot Species Profile: Buckwheat

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Video buckwheat for deer
buckwheat food plot

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a warm-season annual forb that can provide several benefits to your whitetail food plot program. However, it is not a legume, as are some of the more commonly planted summer deer forages, such as soybeans, cowpeas, lablab, and alyceclover.

Buckwheat reaches heights of 2 to 4 feet at maturity. The plant has a single stem, often with numerous branches along the upper portion of the plant. The alternating leaves are several inches long and heart-shaped. It also produces many white flowers. The seed is tannish-brown and somewhat triangular shaped and looks similar to beech nuts. Each fruit contains a single seed inside a hard outer hull. Ducks, doves, turkeys, and other birds relish the seed, which is why it is commonly used in dove fields, waterfowl impoundments, road sides, and firebreaks.

Buckwheat matures very quickly – approximately 10 weeks after germination. It will mature even quicker if it is planted later in the growing season. This is why buckwheat is a popular planting in regions with a short growing season, or grown as a second crop within the season. Crude protein levels in buckwheat forage are quite impressive, ranging from 15 to 25 percent in well-managed soils.

Adaptations

One of the primary benefits of buckwheat is its adaptability to various soil and climatic conditions across North America, in addition to its tolerance of low soil fertility and pH. It is truly one of the most adaptable forages and has a knack for making something out of nothing.

buckwheat pollinators
Buckwheat flowers are extremely attractive to pollinators of all kinds, like this honeybee.

However, as with any other forage being managed for deer and other wildlife, it performs better if soil quality is addressed through proper liming and fertilization according to soil test recommendations.

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Another benefit of buckwheat is its soil-building nature for future plantings. The plant residue increases organic matter and releases a significant amount of phosphorus that will be available for your fall plantings, improving the nutritional quality while reducing fertilizer costs.

In general, overall grazing preference of buckwheat by deer would be considered moderate and its resistance to grazing pressure would be considered fair to good. However, these characteristics are relative to the overall habitat quality and deer herd characteristics of an area.

Soil Preparation

As with any planting, soil testing should be conducted to ensure you apply the appropriate amounts of lime and fertilizer to make sure nutrient levels are high and readily available by maintaining a neutral pH greater than 6.0. Buckwheat does not require much nitrogen but responds well to phosphorus and potassium. Thus, applying 20 to 30 lbs./acre of nitrogen, along with a minimum of 40 lbs./acre of phosphorus and 40 lbs./acre of potassium, will result in a quality stand. However, an accurate soil test is the best way help you determine the appropriate nutrient levels to apply for buckwheat.

buckwheat food plot
A young plot of buckwheat with cowpeas and sorghum. The buckwheat has already flowered before the other crops have begun to mature. Because it germinates quickly and can rapidly form a dense canopy that shades out weed competition, go with a lighter rate of buckwheat when planting in a blend with other summer crops.

Planting

Buckwheat is very easy to establish and can be planted after the last frost throughout the entire growing season, depending on where you are geographically. This is really the only difference in planting and managing buckwheat. Southern food plotters have a longer growing season to work with, which offers more flexibility for planting as early as April or as late as September. However, buckwheat can be managed just as effectively in northern regions, with a general planting window of May through August. In areas with a long growing season and with proper management and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, early planted buckwheat may produce two to three stands during the summer due to its ability to reseed.

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Buckwheat can be planted alone or in a blend with other warm-season annuals like cowpeas, soybeans and lablab. If planting alone, broadcast approximately 40 to 50 lbs./acre or drill at 30 to 35 lbs./acre at a depth of ½ to 1 inch. If mixing with other species, reduce the seeding rate according to the number of species included. This is especially important with buckwheat because it establishes so quickly and can suppress other forages that are slower to establish. Also, if planting in marginal seedbed conditions, consider slightly increasing your seeding rate to account for reduced germination.

Once buckwheat is planted, its rapid germination and growth rate is an excellent weed suppression mechanism. It quickly forms a dense leaf canopy, suppressing many weeds due to the shading/smothering effect.

Final Thoughts

In most situations, I prefer to plant highly productive forage legumes like soybeans, cowpeas and lablab during summer before I plant other species like buckwheat. On a per-acre basis, buckwheat simply doesn’t stand up to these others, as annual production is typically less than half the production of forage legumes – 2,500 to 3,000 lbs./acre dry weight for buckwheat compared to 7,000 to 8,000 lbs./acre with forage legumes. Thus, I can more effectively maximize the nutritional carrying capacity of the food plot acres I have at my disposal.

However, there are some situations where buckwheat excels. Because it grows so rapidly and has a short maturation period, it’s perfect for providing a quick food source with a mid- to late-summer planting when natural food sources begin to play out. Because of its adaptability, buckwheat is also well suited for areas that may be difficult to access with heavy equipment to properly manage soil quality, or in fields where it may be difficult to achieve a quality seed bed like where rocks or rough soils are a problem.

See also  .25-06 Remington for Mule Deer Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Mule Deer Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .25-06 Remington a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for mule deer hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .25-06 Remington is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest mule deer. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the mule deer, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the mule deer in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .25-06 Remington Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a mule deer in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .25-06 Remington within the ideal range of suitable calibers for mule deer hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the .25-06 Remington is A GOOD CHOICE for mule deer hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .25-06 Remington Animal Species Mule Deer Muzzle Energy 2360 foot-pounds Animal Weight 225 lbs Shot Distance 150 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .25-06 Remington? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .25-06 Remington round is approximately 2360 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male mule deer? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male mule deer is approximately 225 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .25-06 Remington Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in mule deer hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for mule deer to be approximately 150 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .25-06 Remington. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the mule deer being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .25-06 Remington is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest mule deer - and to this question, the response again is yes, the .25-06 Remington is A GOOD CHOICE for mule deer hunting. [Click Here to Shop .25-06 Remington Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting mule deer to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

Although buckwheat wouldn’t be considered a “top shelf” summer forage for deer, it can provide several benefits depending on your goals and resources.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>