I'll be releasing at the end of June my 3rd book called The Next Bite. Here are some basic concepts that will be found in it.
37% Protein Clover. We all see claims like this on social media but there's a lot left out. They should disclaimer by saying that number is only for 3 days out of 30-60 in a growth cycle. Nothing stays at that level for very long in a forages life cycle. After a clover or forage goes through that initial growth phase it begins to drop in crude protein, minerals and energy levels. Once forages move towards reproduction (blossoming) they begin to become more fibrous and as a result loose palatability. Plant digestibility drops and sugars drop. Unless there is nothing more desirable nearby, there will be refusal. Deer are selective browsers and will pick and sort to find desirable forages in a plot, that also leads to inefficiency. Why would we want our deer to work harder and move farther to fill their tanks up? Every step burns calories and increases an animals maintenance requirements. Every step we reduce from bedding to water to food is how we tilt the table in our favors to attract and keep healthy deer on our properties.
Here is another area I've demonstrated in the past that many overlook. Forages that grow fastest tend to be the most attractive early on in their growth cycle. They also drop in quality the fastest. This is why deer prefer annual clovers over perennial clovers in a mix during the early to mid stages of growth. They then drop off on quality faster than the perennial clovers, which is why it's good science to include some annual clovers as nurse crops in perennial clover blends. If your trying to attract deer into your plots sooner, annual clovers draw them in as well as extend the grazing in that plot. A new clover I've been testing is a slower growing clover that will last many more years than clovers on the market. No coincidence, it was the highest testing clover at late vegetative stage in my main test plot.
For soybeans. Soybeans that are early maturity (0.6-1.5) beans tend to be more desirable in the first 30 to 60 days then (2-3.5) range soybeans and even more so than the longer day (4.0-7.3) forage type soybeans. I will once again provide that data to people in 2018. One gentleman in Indiana also planted 4 different types of soybeans to mimic my trial and observed the same results. This was expected and once again it's the same agronomic and nutritional concepts that I discuss with clovers. This is why If anyone asks me what type of bean I'd plant, I'd choose an early maturing soybean for the nutritional aspect and then i'd also have the ability to extend top end nutrition for another 150 days because I can overseed brassicas into them. Once the soybeans go into the reproductive phase, their forage quality plunges.
For those who do not clip their perennial clovers, alfalfa and other legumes at late vegetative stage (before more than 10% of the plants begin to flower), here is what happens. If your talking alfalfa, you will lose 1-5 points of relative feed value per day. If your talking clovers it might be .50-2.5 points per day depending on what mother nature is throwing at us. You will see crude protein levels drop from 24-26% down to 14-16% within the next 10-14 days. You will also see plots take more time to recover (snap back) by clipping late. Note if you take more than 70% of a plants leaf surface area off by clipping, your shutting the plants powerhouse down (their root system). If you insist on waiting for your clovers to be blossomed out before clipping, then you sure as heck better not clip more than half of their height. Your clipping down a lot more plant residue which can smother out your stands.
I challenge people to educate themselves on how plants grow. Photosynthesis is a basic concept. That is what goes on above the ground. The most important thing with forage nutrition and growth is what is happening below the ground. It's all about the roots. Roots bring in moisture. Roots pull in nutrients. Roots drive our plant factories and that is why I spend so much time educating my client base on the soil and little tricks on how to grow roots. Yep, growing roots leads to healthier plants that are more nutritious and more desirable. That is M.I.G (managed intensive nutrition 101)
Hope I gave you all some food for though. Look for "The Next Bite" in June 2018.