When To Plant Turnips For Deer

If you want to attract and hunt deer, turnips are a must-have crop for small food plots. Do you notice your turnips are untouched and ignored? Then, if this is the case, you’ll need to know a bit more about planting turnips.

Other times, you can find that deer have entirely ignored your turnips, leaving you with an entire plot of undisturbed turnips?

If this is the case, the issue is most likely because of improper planting timing. You might not know when to grow turnips for deer or the optimal time to sow these crops to get the best outcomes.

Luckily, in our guide, you can learn much more about the best time to plant turnips for deer. By the end, you’ll know more about planting turnips for deer at the right time and planting other brassicas along with this cool-season annual as your food plot strategy for successful hunting. (Learn What Can I Feed Deer)


What Is The Best Turnip To Plant For Deer?

Purple Shirt Turnip is a plant in the brassica family that deer enjoy eating. This nutritious turnip grows with the globe exposed, allowing deer typically access both the tops and the root plant in food plots. Deer quickly consume the plant leafy tops and roots because they are nutritious and high in protein.

Fast-growing, high-yielding, and well-suited to sowing into existing food plots in your home garden with minimal tillage or seeding into a seedbed.

Turnips are a cool-season crop that thrives in northern climates. Root growth is most vigorous during periods of cold weather, and they attain maturity in around 55 days. Germination requires a temperature of at least 50° in the soil.

One strategy to attract deer to an area where you can more readily hunt them is to have a well-maintained food crop. You’ve undoubtedly tried a variety of crops for your food plot, but turnips are one that many people discover to attract a lot of deer.

Turnips are fantastic because they contain many minerals and protein, are highly digestible, and help deer grow bigger and healthier all winter long.

Deer eat both the leaves on top of the turnips, and the turnips themselves buried in the ground; thus, no part of the crop is wasted.

Deer will usually eat the top leaves first, then go on to the bulbous roots once all the leaves have been consumed. The fiber level of turnips does not grow with age, making them easier for deer to digest.

Turnips also have the advantage of withstanding harsh winter conditions, making them more valuable than other crops. Now, if you want deer to flock to your food plot to eat your turnips, you must pay attention to this quality.

cold weather

Why Cold Weather Is Important

Turnips, unlike many other crops, do exceptionally well in the winter. Deer eat turnips in the winter because they likely cannot get food that will provide them with the nutrition they require elsewhere. Second, when the crops are exposed to cold weather, turnips become appealing to deer. (Read Do Deer Eat Hostas)

The cold develops the turnips, making them tastier and more appealing to deer. Young turnips that have not yet matured have a harsh taste and are unappealing to deer.

You must pay attention to this reaction of turnips to the cold if you want your turnip planting to succeed. One critical error made by hunters that result in their turnips not being eaten by deer is planting them at the wrong time of year.

They are not at full maturity when they are most sought, or they may not gain the flavor that deer prefer. Both events take place during the winter months. It’s also worth noting that turnips have a lot of root growth even when the weather is cold. It should also be noted how turnips thrive in the root department when the temperature is low.

Do Deer Like Turnips Or Radishes?

Turnips and radishes are quality food sources and deliver great late-season sustenance when winter starts rolling in. When digging tubers out of the frozen ground, deer will consume them.

The optimum time to plant turnips to attract deer is in the fall. Planting turnips for deer in the fall allows you to sow them before the first severe freeze.

Turnips take about 55 days from seeding to maturity. This assumes you’re using a popular turnip variety like purple top turnips. They’ll produce lovely green turnip leaves and turnips of middling size on your food plot and make excellent late-season food.

You don’t want to plant turnips too late, but you also don’t want to plant them too early. The weather variations in different places make it difficult to determine an exact date to sow turnips for deer.

For example, if you live in the Midwest, you may encounter a deep freeze in the autumn. Some individuals in colder Northern areas need to plant turnips in August or early September, but you need to be aware of your local weather patterns.

deer eating

Can You Plant Turnips In The Spring For Deer?

Deer will eat the tops and roots as winter arrives. In northern places, where winter arrives early, turnips should be planted in late summer, between July and August.

While deer will eat turnips as early as germination, don’t expect a spike in consumption during the early season. With excellent food sources, deer rarely attack them until mid-October or early November.

Sow turnip seeds directly in the garden 2–3 weeks before the average last frost date for a late spring yield.

Purple Top Turnips in your food plots are a must. They are easy to cultivate and manage and provide excellent forage for deer in the fall and winter.

Turnips grow quickly and reach maturity 60-90 days after planting in your food plot. Knowing this and that turnips are at their finest in the winter, you can now determine when to plant turnips in your location. (Read Do Deer Eat Mint)

In the spring and summer, turnips are not preferred by deer and are not appealing until the first frost in October through early November. Deer eat the leafy plants’ tops and roots as winter arrives.

Purple Top Turnips can be grown alone or combined after planting cereal grains with low effort and substantial rewards. They grow well in a wide range of soil types but prefer fertile loamy soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

They do not thrive in hard clay soils, damp or poorly drained areas, especially at first. Turnip seeds require 45°F soil temperatures to sprout. Plant late summer or early fall for hunting season.

The broadcast seeding rate is 10 lbs/acre, less if mixed with other plants. Plants grow huge and can shade out other species in a mix of seeded precisely. Turnips can be seeded at 2-5 lbs/acre when mixed with other seeds.

Remember that turnip seed is tiny, and a little goes a long way. All you need is an all-purpose fertilizer to obtain a great crop and help plants reach maturity.

Even when planting alone, do not overseed as the plants will crowd one other and develop stunted. Turnip seed is small enough to be planted shallowly or distributed onto an existing plot with little or no-tillage. After spread seeding, drag to ensure good seed to soil contact and germination.

Purple Top Turnips in your food plots are a must. They are easy to cultivate, and deer begin eating without too much introduction. This member of the brassica plant family offers great forage, nutrients, and fiber content for deer in the fall hunting season and winter. While deer will eat turnips as early as germination, the key factor is don’t expect peak consumption during the early season.

They are a terrific complement to existing food plots that are thinning out. Planted Purple Top Turnips are the perfect one-crop stop for those short on time.

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