Cowpea leaves must taste pretty darn good...

Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
... because my deer made a b-line to all five of my pea patches on my farm and mowed them down as fast as they germinated over the weekend. That's not unusual for peas growing in areas where there's deer, but what makes it weird to me is that I have a few thousand of pounds of blueberries still on the vine that the deer are cleaning up and it seems once the peas started sprouting they said "blah" to the blueberries and went straight for the peas. I was betting that nothing would pull them off the blueberries and that's why I'd be able to get away with growing some peas. I've never thought about deer getting tired of a highly preferred food source when its present in abundance. Which, the remaining berries are very sweet because they've sat on the vine a long time. As where deer like to chow down on bitter things like acorns, palmetto berries, and gall berries, I wonder if the berries can become too sweet for their tastes? 

If my pea patches are bare within the next week or so I'm going to try again. I figure this time I'll till up an entire 5 acre field and hope that there will be so many peas that the deer won't be able to keep up with their growth.

Has anyone successfully grown peas, either for food plot use or for personal farming, in areas with high deer density? Electric fences wouldn't be an option I'm interested in. Anyone ever try scarecrows to keep them out of freshly planted plots or fields?

Replies

  • 4WARD4WARD Cross Creek,FLPosts: 1,000 Officer
    Not on that scale but had the same results with cowpeas. Had visions of a nice little food plot, nope.
    Their interests darn sure vary, that is certain.
    Deer here have ignored my blueberries this year, stripping some peach trees that I put in.
    One year a certain fawn developed a taste for my Datil Pepper patch. She was in there every morning, I let her have em.
    Green Briar , that is what I am interested in. If I can figure out how to thicken some plots of that.
    Maybe stagger your planting at an acre a week or two. Might give them time to get tired of it?
    "I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    For they always bring me tears
    I can't forgive the way they rob me
    Of my childhood souvenirs"... John Prine
  • 4WARD4WARD Cross Creek,FLPosts: 1,000 Officer
    Another thing to try is putting something unfamiliar in the field every few days.
    Park a tractor or a trailer out there in different spots, stand a ladder up with a couple pieces of flag tape tied to it. Mix it up a little and keep them on edge.
    "I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    For they always bring me tears
    I can't forgive the way they rob me
    Of my childhood souvenirs"... John Prine
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,915 Captain

    I have a question:

    Did you fertilize your cowpeas, and if so with what?

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
    edited July 1 #5
    4WARD said:
    Green Briar , that is what I am interested in. If I can figure out how to thicken some plots of that.

    You want more green briar? I have plenty to spare. That stuff is a bane to my blueberries. I don't use any herbicides on my blueberries, and if I did it wouldn't do much good anyhow because there isn't much out there that will kill the green briar but not kill my blueberries. Of my 17 acres of blueberries, I had to cut half of them back this past winter just to get the green briar out of the tops of them and to let the bushes rejuvenate. I'll be cutting back the second half this winter. I wish my deer here would eat it up, but so far I don't see that they do other than taking fresh growth from low vines.

    The deer are already familiar with my tractors and ATVs. I can drive right up to them within about 25 yards or so. In fact the deer like to bed down around my equipment at night and if I move a piece of equipment they seem to like to check it out in its new location. My little female bulldog died recently and since she's died the deer have run amok as if the other two dogs don't register as a threat to then. Last night there were three deer just a couple of yards outside my study's window just grazing in the back yard. They have little fear. 

    I'm wondering if some mannequins in camo and with twirly tape might keep them at bay.  
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain

    I have a question:

    Did you fertilize your cowpeas, and if so with what?

    No, I did not fertilize them. I don't inoculate them either. I've always used cow peas in food plots but usually as a mix with aeschynomene to give the deer something to target while the aeschynomene gets established. I've never found that cow peas need fertilizer. They seem perfectly built to grow in poor woods soil. But I'll be darned if I can figure out how to get a good stand of them to last anywhere there is a high deer density. The only time I've ever had them live more than a couple of weeks was in south GA in an area of low deer density.
  • 4WARD4WARD Cross Creek,FLPosts: 1,000 Officer



    I'm wondering if some mannequins in camo and with twirly tape might keep them at bay.  
    I tried playing a radio once. They did a Barry White marathon and I was overrun with fawns the next spring.:) 
    My deer always gravitate to the areas of green briar, ever think that might be encouraging them to your blueberries?
    "I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    For they always bring me tears
    I can't forgive the way they rob me
    Of my childhood souvenirs"... John Prine
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,915 Captain

    My thoughts on the cowpeas are this:

    This species is pretty darn good at pulling trace elements out of the top 6 inches of the soil and concentrating these elements in the tender young foliage for plant growth. Require very little fertilizer, also. Whitetails instinctually will know what available forage plants will have those elements that the deer need.

    Greenbrier is an excellent forage plant, and Whitetails will tear it up like crazy in places. Blackberry brambles and especially Japanese Honeysuckle vines are outstanding forage plants. If you have these--blackberry and honeysuckle vines, fertilize these patches heavily with the highest N-P-K fertilizer you can get and you'll have a forage spot ten times better than any food plot. Be sure and read the label on the fertilizer, however! Make sure that it contains no granulated sludge out of Upper Midwest city sewage systems. You eat vegetables fertilized with human excreetment, but you can bet your last dollar that Whitetails know it instantly, and will be reluctant to eat any browse fertilized with it.   

  • 4WARD4WARD Cross Creek,FLPosts: 1,000 Officer
    All noted woodsrunner, I put the honeysuckle on my notes to investigate the last time you mentioned it.
    Good stuff, thank you.
    So maybe the right mineral supplement could draw their attention away?
    "I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    For they always bring me tears
    I can't forgive the way they rob me
    Of my childhood souvenirs"... John Prine
  • OwlseyOwlsey Posts: 321 Deckhand
    4WARD, the Barry White reference was hilarious. What you need to do is to somehow convince the deer that it is hunting season. They will surely disappear.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,915 Captain

    'frog, I called an old friend and classmate in wildlife management to get his ideas on how to keep Whitetails out of your cultivated area without an electric fence, and he was totally negative on what to do. In his opinion unless you can physically hurt a deer you're not going to keep it out of your cultivation. He said there is an electrical fence, developed down in Australia, that is battery/solar powered that is pretty cheap, and will charge up to 21 miles of fence wire day and night. You might want to think about going this route unless there's some reason you don't want to use electricity.

    I grow vegetables on an acre, intensively cultivated, for the local farmers market, and being "next door" to Tall Timbers Research Station our deer population is at the carrying capacity of the land. I use an electric fence and must to keep deer out of the garden area. I string one wire about 14"-18" off the ground primarily for coons and rabbits, and another about 40-42 inches high for deer. Then I'll take peanut butter and smear it on the insulators/wire on a couple of posts. Deer will lick the peanut butter----one time is all it takes! They must tell each other about it, because its strictly a one-time deal! The way a deer's hooves are structured it is about as well grounded as possible, and it looks like a roto-tiller churned up the dirt!

  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,915 Captain

    My thoughts on the cowpeas are this:

    This species is pretty darn good at pulling trace elements out of the top 6 inches of the soil and concentrating these elements in the tender young foliage for plant growth. Require very little fertilizer, also. Whitetails instinctually will know what available forage plants will have those elements that the deer need.

    Greenbrier is an excellent forage plant, and Whitetails will tear it up like crazy in places. Blackberry brambles and especially Japanese Honeysuckle vines are outstanding forage plants. If you have these--blackberry and honeysuckle vines, fertilize these patches heavily with the highest N-P-K fertilizer you can get and you'll have a forage spot ten times better than any food plot. Be sure and read the label on the fertilizer, however! Make sure that it contains no granulated sludge out of Upper Midwest city sewage systems. You eat vegetables fertilized with human excreetment, but you can bet your last dollar that Whitetails know it instantly, and will be reluctant to eat any browse fertilized with it. 

    EDIT: Just noticed that I have the rank of "Captain", and have made 1,862 posts! My GGrandad (father of my Grandad who reared me) was also a Captain in 1862----a surgeon in the 44th Georgia Vols. CSA!   

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
    edited July 2 #13

    'frog, I called an old friend and classmate in wildlife management to get his ideas on how to keep Whitetails out of your cultivated area without an electric fence, and he was totally negative on what to do. In his opinion unless you can physically hurt a deer you're not going to keep it out of your cultivation. He said there is an electrical fence, developed down in Australia, that is battery/solar powered that is pretty cheap, and will charge up to 21 miles of fence wire day and night. You might want to think about going this route unless there's some reason you don't want to use electricity.

    I grow vegetables on an acre, intensively cultivated, for the local farmers market, and being "next door" to Tall Timbers Research Station our deer population is at the carrying capacity of the land. I use an electric fence and must to keep deer out of the garden area. I string one wire about 14"-18" off the ground primarily for coons and rabbits, and another about 40-42 inches high for deer. Then I'll take peanut butter and smear it on the insulators/wire on a couple of posts. Deer will lick the peanut butter----one time is all it takes! They must tell each other about it, because its strictly a one-time deal! The way a deer's hooves are structured it is about as well grounded as possible, and it looks like a roto-tiller churned up the dirt!


    I appreciate you taking the time to ask your friend. I'll trust that advice. I may look into an electric fence for next year. At some point I'm going to be introducing bee hives for my blueberries and to have some honey for myself and I know I'll need an electric fence then to keep the bears out. I may plan on fencing in 2-3 acres and keep the hives on the edge of that field. 

    I've got about another 75lbs of seed I need to do something with. I may make one last hurrah with it and make the biggest stand I can with it and if they chow it all down then so be it. Right now I'm storing the seed in a shed with AC and I'm getting tired of keeping the AC on so I might as well put it out there. 

    I saw a really big, red, doe out in one of the stands this evening while I was plinking. 
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
    4WARD said:
     So maybe the right mineral supplement could draw their attention away?
    I'm curious about this too and the relationship between fertilizer, taste, nutrition, and preference. 
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
    edited July 2 #15

    4WARD said:
    My deer always gravitate to the areas of green briar, ever think that might be encouraging them to your blueberries?
    Could be. Although my understanding is that deer also like the new growth on the blueberry bushes and that could be drawing them too. They definitely like the berries themselves. Seems like they prefer to eat them off the ground first from what the birds and wind knocks down, then they take to stripping them off the bushes. But I've noticed a pattern where the animals seem to get tired of eating the berries after they've been scarfing them down for a few weeks. Even the crows around here have stopped showing up in the fields. Dove seem to like the berries too. The deer are still stripping them but as I'm guessing with the peas they'd rather have something tasty and new. 

    I'd gladly tolerate the deer eating some of my blueberries if they'd control the greenbriar for me. I'm sure they are eating a lot of it but there's just so much of it that I can't see where they're having a big impact on it. But my place is a bit of a deer salad. Lots of greenbriar, honeysuckle, blackberry briars, dollar weed, clover (from some old food plots the previous owner planted and let go in the past), tons of blueberries, then in the fall persimmons and acorns and what greenery is left over from the summer. And then there's my yard and personal crops. Lots of wolf berries in my back yard in some planters. There's something they like to browse on in my yard in the grass but I haven't figured out what yet. I presume they don't like straight bahiagrass. I have spots of clover and dollar weed but I haven't been able to zero in exactly what they browse on when they walk around the house. 
  • OwlseyOwlsey Posts: 321 Deckhand
    I'm jealous when I hear about a yard/house like this. Living in Palm Beach County is quite different.  Tall house to my left and right. HOA rules that prevent  over sized gardens.. My wife loves it down here. I prefer a different life style.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,915 Captain

    Get the seed in the ground, 'frog! It ain't gonna do youn's a bit of good in a cooler other than cost you money for running the A/C unit! I can give you first hand experience on that! Got about 12,000 pounds of heirloom corn in my cooler right now. Keep it at about 47- 52 degrees with a "Cool-Bot'" system on my 220 volt AC unit!

  • smhsmh Posts: 222 Deckhand
    I just harvested my first several pickings of purple hull cowpeas from my personal garden.  It's my first time planting them.  I fenced the garden with a 4-ft chicken wire fence, and it's kept the deer out.  I know they could easily jump it and get in there if they wanted to, but they haven't yet---not sure why not.  I have had issues with deer nipping leaves and tender shoots off some fruit trees I planted out in the pasture, and I'm basically in the same spot as you, albeit not on the same scale.  I've heard stories similar to those of woodsrunner above - that essentially "baiting" a hot electric fence can get the animal to respect it, even if they can otherwise hurdle it.  I've also heard of protecting planted trees and food plots by using a fence within a fence (and they don't necessarily need to be electrified).  You put the first fence around your crops.  You put the second fence several feet away from your first fence.  The goal is to put the fences at a distance where a deer doesn't have enough room to clear the first fence and comfortably land and/or jump again before hitting the second interior fence.  I don't know your budget or time availability, but that option might be more hassle than it's worth on a single five-acre plot.  It might work for smaller plots though. 
  • mattb78mattb78 Posts: 179 Deckhand
    Good deer densities will wipe out cowpeas before they even get started. Cowpeas are very sensitive to early grazing pressure. I have heard that for crops that are sensitive to early grazing pressure like peas and beans it is a minimum of 5 acres to plant to have a chance at crop success, but with smaller deer densities you probably could get away with less.

    Look at some pictures of innoculated vs. non innoculated plants online.  Its is a big difference.  With the cost and labor of planting several acres, might as well innoculate.

    I believe the true pros who run plantations actually fence their beans and peas for 60 days, and then bow season opens and they just hammer them.  But who has the money to run and manage that much fence?

    I would try a larger acreage and also properly innoculate them, and see what happens. If you have crop failure then you could try to companion crop it with sorghum.
  • doghunterdoghunter Posts: 401 Deckhand
    I plant cow peas in the back yard every year. If you don't do anything to keep them from mowing them down, you might as well be throwing money on the ground. 

    I plant probably half an acre. I fence off half of it with an electric fence. I found on the net how to set up the fence so deer wouldn't just jump it. I don't remember the measurements, but one strand is about 18" off the ground and 3' in front of the other strands. The main fence is something like 10", then 24" then 36". The double fence is supposed to mess with their depth perception.  Seems to work. They'll have everything mowed down to the fence. I let the stuff in the fence get around knee high, then take the fence down. Once they get bigger, they stand up to browse a lot better. This makes a bag of peas keep the deer coming for 6-8 weeks or more
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 12,586 AG
    Milorganite is your best friend for keeping deer out of an area until you are ready for them to enter it. Depending on how much rain you get one application will usually last almost 2 weeks. Being these patches are at your house makes it easier to reapply when needed. 
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
    A friend of mine also suggested the milorganite at the same time you did micci. I'll look into it next year so long as it isn't something that can get on my blueberries. 

    Here's an update as to where I'm at. The deer nuked three of the original 5 plots. Two of the plots within close proximity to the house received less grazing and now each have smallish but stable stands. I replanted the plot in the above picture and tilled up 2 more plots by the house. I then replanted the above plot and planted the two new plots to the tune of 38lbs per half acre and mixed with sunflowers. 

    The stands near the house are looking good. Lots of deer tracks but I don't think they linger long so close to the house with the dogs randomly running out and around. The plot in the picture is mostly nuked again, but its not totally bare. 
  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 12,586 AG
    Sunflowers are just like the CP's, the deer will nip them when they come up and they are done... put the MO on the new plantings now and keep the deer out until you want them in. Don't waste your money on the seed.
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,758 Captain
    Update. The fronts passing thru got the deer back into the blueberries for some reason. I get nothing on camera around the pea patches but I see lots of does in the middle of the BB fields. Anyhow, to my surprise, the pea stalks have rebounded and what they have mowed down has revitalized. As of now I have several good stands of peas. 
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