“Daikon Radishes for deer?” you ask.
They are a little known member of the Brassica family, which also includes rape, kale, turnips, mustard, canola and cabbage. It may be a little early to tell, but forage or trophy radishes may be the best overall Brassica option for a deer planting. It supplies the combination of high nutrition in the top and root, attraction, huge production, fast germination and growth and a large deeply penetrating taproot that breaks soil compaction in heavy soils.
Research data from Dr. Ray Weil at the University of Maryland shows dry-matter production of 5,000 lbs./acre for top growth (shoots and leaves) plus 2,000 lbs./acre of root dry matter.
According to Dr. Weil, “A good forage-radish cover crop adds significant quantities of easily decomposed organic matter to the soil.”
Radishes grow so fast they can be used to smother and suppress weeds while enhancing the seedbed. They die-off in winter, resulting in rapidly decomposing residues that enrich the soil. They add organic matter high in nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, boron) to the soil for a companion or follow-up crop to utilize. They are much easier to grow than finicky sugar beets and are well adapted throughout the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest.
Forage Daikon Radishes
Forage radish does not look like a radish at all, but more like a huge, long, green-and-white carrot, which can reach lengths of 18 to 24 inches. These long radishes add organic matter and aerate and loosen the soil, even in heavy clay. Better yet, unlike other Brassicas, which are often ignored by deer in the first year, deer seem to learn quickly to eat the green top growth as well as the radish itself.
Indications are, from actual visual observations of feeding deer, that unlike many Brassicas where a freeze makes the greens sweeter and provides better palatability, deer eat radishes before the first freeze ever takes place. In test plots in the Southeast, deer began feeding actively on the greens shortly after emergence in September, even in a very good acorn year. Unlike other Brassicas, they are resilient after grazing pressure, quickly sprouting more new leafy growth. In the mature plant, a December sample and lab test from radishes in New York revealed protein levels higher than 20 percent for both the top and root, even after the forage quality had begun to decline from cold weather. This was equal to or greater than a highly marketed, well-known commercial Brassica blend.
Radishes can be planted alone or as part of a food-plot mix, which might include clovers and small grains with radishes used as a nurse crop. We prefer a mix as radishes need at least 60 pounds an acre of actual nitrogen for best growth, and some of this, especially during root development, can be supplied by clover. In addition, after radishes fade in winter, you are still left with a vigorous stand of clover and small grains growing on a much improved, loosened and enriched seedbed. Like all other members of the Brassica family, radishes should not be grown on the same ground for more than two successive years v because of a possible build up of diseases in the soil. Normally, a two-year rest period is enough before planting radishes again Daikon Radishes.
A new forage variety known as Trophy Radishes performed well and lived up to high expectations in New York and Georgia test plots in 2008, despite less-than-ideal conditions, including drought, cold and snow. Daikon Radishes The 96 New York deer that were digging through a foot of snow were in a 2-acre Trophy Radish plot in late February Daikon Radishes.
Fertilize your plot with 300 lbs./acre of 19-19-19 or 2 to 3 tons per acre of chicken litter. Disk the plot to incorporate fertilizer/litter and prepare a smooth, weed-free seed bed. Broadcast seed and drag or cultipack. Daikon Radishes Do not cover seed more than 1/2 inch deep. Daikon Radishes Trophy Radishes can also be planted in pure stands at 10 lbs./acre for forage production or 15 lbs./acre to suppress weeds into early April. Daikon Radishes Better yet, broadcast at 5 lbs./acre, they make an ideal addition to clover/small grain plots, Brassica mixes or any food-plot crop for deer. Daikon Radishes Do not exceed these rates or fast-germinating radishes, out of the ground in two to four days after rain, will smother desirable companion crops Daikon Radishes.
Daikon Radishes on the market
Radishes should be planted by late August in the North and early to mid-September in the South. Do not attempt to grow them in Daikon Radishes the spring as they will rush to bloom and go to seed and results will be disappointing Daikon Radishes.
Daikon Radishes Incidentally, they are also good in stir fry or raw with a crispy, crunchy texture and mild sweet flavor. They are great in salads and very nutritious, especially high in calcium, Daikon Radishes phosphorus and iron. But best of all, deer love ’em Daikon Radishes.
Currently, Trophy Radishes are the only forage radishes on the market available to deer managers at a reasonable price. Daikon Radishes They will be available at Coopers Seed in Auburn. Call them at (877) 463-6697, or check them out online at <www.cooperseeds.com>.