Chicory for Nutritional Spring Food Plots

Management Advantage – Buck Forage Chicory for Nutritional Spring Food Plots 
By Colby Ward & Rick Philippi

For the spring wild turkey seasons Rick Philippi and I decided to improve our hunting properties nutritional offerings by planting Buck Forage chicory. This is all a part of our long term plan of improving the habitat on our land to attract and consistently support trophy class bucks. Each year we pick a project or two that increases the overall nutritional value of our land. 

Buck Forage Chicory is our spring food plot preference due to its drought tolerance and high protein content.

Buck Forage Oats is a seed that was developed by Buck Forage Products out of Stuttgart Arkansas, and has been thoroughly tested and recommended for added nutritional plots across the country. It can be combination planted with Buck Forage Oats in the fall or planted stand alone in the spring.

Chicory is easy to plant and adapts to a wide variety of soils, although thrives in areas with 30 plus inches of annual rainfall and has a soil PH of 5.5 or higher. It is best to plant in sites that have well to moderately drained soils. Deer have a high preference for Buck Forage Chicory, which has a protein content of 22-33% depending on the stage of plant growth. Buck Forage Chicory can tolerate heavy grazing pressure, which is important due to the number of deer and hogs that are on our area.

We prepared our plot site by first running a brush hog/cutter over the designated area, followed by several passes with a disc.  We decided to put in long narrow plots that followed the natural contour of the land. We then ran an old baseball drag over the plot site to knock down the dirt clods and firm up the seed bed. It is recommended to plant Buck Forage Chicory at a depth of ¼”, but since we did not have a seed drill, decided to broadcast the seed right on top of our seedbed and let the upcoming rain do the rest of the work for us. It is just important to have decent seed/soil contact.

We used a Kubota 3240 4X4 tractor to prepare the seed bed for our spring food plots.

Chicory is a cool season perennial herb that grows long, broad leaves that resemble those of dandelion. It produces abundant spring and summer forage. Chicory develops a deep taproot so it is very tolerant of drought and will stay green and palatable in summer, a time when other cool season forages like turnips, rape and clover are of little or no value to wildlife. A properly maintained chicory stand can last up to seven years.

Chicory grows very rapidly and usually outgrows other weeds. Deer typically browse the plot down keeping the plants at their most palatable and nutritious stage, but can be mowed periodically if the plants start to develop flowery stalks higher than 6 to 10 inches.

Author’s daughter Ashley helped to mow, disc and plant our spring food plots.

In early fall we plan to plant combination plantings of Buck Forage Oats and Buck Forage Chicory which will work as fall hunting attractant plots as well as providing year around nutrition. 

Buck Forage Chicory is a great choice for adding nutritional value to your habitat. It is highly palatable with digestible percentages between 90% and 95% and with a protein content as high as 33%. It is drought resistant and grows quickly, making it a great pick for spring and fall nutrition plots. 

More information about Buck Forage Chicory can be seen at Buck Forage or contact them by phone at 1 (800) 299-6287.

Good luck and happy hunting!

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