Sunn Hemp for Deer and Wildlife
Sunn hemp is also excellent for wildlife: Deer will walk a mile for it. In fact, if you have sunn hemp with deer in the area, you will not be able to keep them out of it. The new leaves of sunn hemp are 30 percent protein.
This gives the protein to deer while the bucks are in antler development and also while does are carrying fawns. Late summer, the sunn hemp will also greatly boost milk production of the does with fawns. Both turkey and quail find good cover and other food sources, such as grasshoppers, in sunn hemp. Rabbits abound in sunn hemp as they find it a nutritious food source and cover.
(Left) Dr. Steven Petcher, in Fruitdale, for several years has been using Sunn Hemp to draw deer into his fall food plots. (Right) Peter Gail enjoys the pleasure of bowhunting over Sunn Hemp.
Starting in September, Sunn Hemp does not grow as tall as when planted earlier. However, many deer hunters are planting Sunn Hemp in September at a 7 - 10 lbs. per acre mixed in with their early fall winter deer food plots. The young, tender, high protein Sunn Hemp dynamically attracts the deer. The beauty of the Sunn Hemp is that it only gets 2 – 3 feet tall and you can still see the deer. Twenty eight degrees will terminate the sunn hemp. The Sunn Hemp planted late does not have time to do much improvement to the soil. However, strips of oats with Sunn Hemp did stay greener throughout the Winter than strips of oats with no Sunn Hemp.
Sunn Hemp for Quail
AU Golden Sunn Hemp and Quail Haven Soybeans mixed is “The Premier Quail Food Plot.” The Sunn Hemp will grow rapidly and give the quail plenty of cover and plenty of insects for the quail to feed on. The Quail Haven will produce between 500 and 1,500 lbs of small soybeans for the birds to feed on over the winter. The AU Golden will produce between 1,000 and 1,500 lbs of seed per acre.
Ten lbs. of Sunn Hemp and 10 lbs. of Quail Haven Soybeans per acre can be mixed and planted together, as seed are the same size. They can be drilled or broadcast and lightly covered. Plant anytime after April 15, on a fairly well prepared seed bed. Soybean inoculant is recommended. Fertilizer is not necessary but will help on poor soils. Leave the plot standing over the Winter. Twenty-eight degrees will kill the Sunn Hemp and soybean vines. The soybeans have hard seed coats and will provide feed over the winter. A light discing the following Spring will allow both Sunn Hemp and Quail Haven soybeans to germinate and grow the following year. Beside providing cover, food, drawing and keeping your wildlife, this mix will greatly improve your soils.
Only at Petcher Seeds do you stay on the phone for 3.5 hours fixing computer problems, then go out to help the boss search for a baby fawn. After a little searching, we found the day-old fawn and gently placed her back in the Sunn Hemp field where she was born and would be safe. Very shortly we saw her mother cross the road to return to her fawn. God’s beauty is all around us everyday. His creation is such a blessing.
As most of you know already, besides being a nutrient rich forage, Sunn Hemp provides excellent cover for all wildlife. Especially rabbits, quail, doves, turkey, and of course deer.
Each year at Petcher Seeds we have a number of fawns born in our Sunn Hemp patches. Because we graze our goats in the same fields, we are able to see the fawn frequently.
If by chance you are bush hogging your Sunn Hemp patches please watch out for the fawns!