Trailing Soybeans for Wildlife

Trailing soybeans make an ideal food plot plant. The plant is tenacious, with strong, although not large, vines. It is competitive with tall weeds or giant foxtail and can also be planted with many domestic plants such as milo, pearl millet, sudex, sudan or any other similar plant.

The small bean is utilized by all wildlife including seed eating song birds. Rabbits and deer feed heavily on the green plant. The seed is hard and moisture resistant and remains in good condition until late spring. This gives wildlife a high protein food source at the onset of the breeding season. This plant will volunteer from three to five years in competition with common annuals.

The trailing soybean is an aggressively growing plant with vines up to 20 feet long. It will climb on whatever is available or vine on the ground. This bean is easily controlled by cultivation or by pasturing because it is relished by all kinds of livestock. It needs a long growing season (120 days) to fully mature. The size of the seed makes it attractive even to small birds. The bean will tolerate extended droughts as it is deeply rooted. The seed begins shattering in late fall, but 25-40 percent will still be in the pod by March 1 of the following spring. This makes this bean a very valuable plant for wildlife food. This plant will grow on poor soils but responds well to soil enrichment. It is a legume and does not grow well on acid soils. The addition of lime to acid soils is recommended.

For Use In Food Plots

Sown at the rate of one bushel to ten acres (6 lbs. per acre) of food plot, trailing soybeans will produce a solid stand. If sowing with other plants is desired, or if annual weeds will be allowed to develop, one bushel to 15 acres (4 lbs. per acre) is adequate. On land not infested with cocklebur, velvet leaf or foxtail, one bushel to 20 acres (3 lbs. per acre) makes an attractive plot. This seed can be sown by hand or planted with a corn planter, using bean plates, or with a Brillion seeder as long as it is not covered over one inch deep. Fertilization is not a must, but this bean does respond to added soil nutrients. Since it will volunteer from three to five years, a little fertilizer and seed be preparation insures a good start. Encourage annuals and leave plots from three to five years or until beans fail to volunteer.

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