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1274Afield: Food plot product is a winner in all fields

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  • pat scala
    Jul 4, 2011
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      Afield: Food plot product is a winner in all fields
      * Article by: BILL MARCHEL , Special to the star Tribune
      * Updated: July 2, 2011 - 11:23 PM
      Trophy Radish is a hit with those who aim to attract deer and other wildlife.

      A well-prepared seed bed awaits the planting of a new food plot product called Trophy Radish.
      Photo: Bill Marchel, Star Tribune
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      BRAINERD - For nearly two decades I've been implementing a variety of projects meant to attract wildlife on 70 acres of land I own near here. Most of my efforts have been successful. Whether the venture was as complicated and expensive as excavating wildlife ponds, or as simple as planting a tree, the work, and ultimately the reward, is very gratifying.
      I'm always on the lookout for new products that can help attract and hold wildlife. It's enjoyable to experiment and satisfying to pass on the information I have learned to help others with similar interests.
      So, after experimenting with various deer food plot seed (or seed mixes) for many years, I'm happy to see a new food plot product has recently been introduced. It's called Trophy Radish by Pennington Seed Company. More good news: There's still time to plant a Trophy Radish food plot this summer.
      Trophy Radish is not your red, round, salad variety of radish. In fact the radish itself is neither red nor round, and was developed specifically for deer. Trophy Radish looks more like a white carrot. According to the company, the radish can reach a length of 18 inches. About half of the root remains out of the ground, similar to a turnip or sugar beet. Both the top growth and the root are reported to have protein levels above 20 percent.
      Several Internet sources agree Trophy Radish has many traits welcomed by those who implement food plots for wildlife. The long taproot of the radish adds nitrogen, phosphorus and other minerals to the soil. In addition the lengthy roots break up compacted dirt and help aerate soil. The lush green top growth germinates quickly and helps eliminate weed problems. As a result, a 10 percent or more increase in production can be expected from other crops planted the following spring.
      Trophy Radish is a member of the brassicas family, a group of plants that include rape and turnips. I've planted both for deer for a number of years with great success. The brassicas are most attractive to deer after a hard freeze. Starting in late October deer flock to my brassicas plots. The shift is timely since by then my clover plots are usually eaten nearly to the ground or are starting to go dormant. I suspect the Trophy Radish will also be most palatable to deer following cold weather.
      Recently I forked out $30 for a 5-pound bag of Trophy Radish. I ordered the seed via www.cooper seeds.com. A 5-pound bag will plant half an acre.
      In May I broke the soil of the food plot in which I intend to plant the Trophy Radish using an ATV outfitted with a three-point hitch and cultivator. It took a lot of work to fracture the thick sod and roots, and to dig out hundreds of rocks. A good seedbed is important, and I knew my initial work would save time later and the end result would be a better food plot.
      After waiting about a month for the newly exposed weed seeds to germinate, I cultivated the soil again to destroy them. A herbicide like Roundup can also be used, but once the original sod was broken, cultivating was relatively easy.
      Before planting I will lime and fertilize the food plot according to a soil test and till the plot one more time. If a soil test is not available, www.TrophyRadishes.com recommends applying 300 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer. Complete planting instructions can also be found on the website.
      Recommended planting dates are August in the north, or 30 days before the first frost. I will plant my Trophy Radish a bit earlier, about mid-July, because I've learned from experience that planting a bit too early is better than too late. Stay tuned for an update later this year.
      Bill Marchel, an outdoors columnist and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

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