Red or White Clover for Deer

Red or White Clover for Deer: Which is the Best Choice?

When it comes to attracting and nourishing deer, clover plays a pivotal role. But the question arises: red or white clover for deer? While both have their merits, white clover is often cited as being more attractive to deer, though red clover can be easier to grow in diverse conditions. However, the choice isn’t always black and white. It’s about understanding the nuances of each clover type and aligning them with your goals and environment. Intrigued? Dive in as we unravel the mysteries of red and white clovers and help you make the best choice for your deer population.

Comparing the Growing Conditions of Red and White Clover

When embarking on the journey of deer management, understanding the growth conditions of your chosen plants is paramount. Both red and white clovers come with unique attributes that affect their growth. By understanding these specifics, you can tailor your cultivation methods to ensure maximum yield and attraction for deer.

Red Clover Growth

Red clover stands out as a versatile forage option, adaptable to a variety of conditions. While many plants might be picky about their environment, red clover displays a commendable ease of growth.

  • Versatility: Red clover has the capability to thrive in a wider range of conditions, making it an excellent choice for plots with varying soil types and pH levels.
  • Tolerance: It’s not overly sensitive to drought, but like any plant, it will benefit from a consistent water supply.

Considering its adaptability, red clover can be an especially good choice for those who are new to food plotting or have diverse plot conditions.

White Clover Resilience

White clover shines in its resilience, particularly when faced with wet conditions. While too much water can drown many plants, white clover marches on, making the most of moist soils.

  • Wet Soil Tolerance: Unlike many forages, white clover can withstand periods of wet soil, often outperforming its counterparts in such conditions.
  • Shade Tolerance: Another notable feature is its ability to grow in partial shade, although optimal growth is still achieved in full sunlight.

For those with plots that tend to retain more moisture or have shaded areas, white clover might just be the ideal choice.

Best Clover for Your Land

So, red or white clover for your deer plot? If you’re dealing with diverse soil types and conditions, red clover’s versatility might be your best bet. On the other hand, if your plot has areas that stay wet or are shaded, the resilience of white clover could be more suitable. Ultimately, it’s about understanding your land and aligning it with the growth characteristics of each clover type.

Attractiveness and Palatability: Which Clover Do Deer Prefer?

A successful deer food plot hinges not only on the growth of the plants but also on their ability to attract deer and provide them with nutritional sustenance. While both red and white clovers have their merits, their attractiveness and nutritional profiles can differ. Let’s delve deeper into these differences and discern which clover might have the upper hand in the eyes (and stomachs) of deer.

White Clover’s Allure

White clover has long been recognized in the deer management community for its magnetic allure. But what makes this clover so enticing to deer?

  • High Palatability: Deer are not just looking for food; they’re looking for tasty food. White clover consistently ranks high in palatability, meaning deer don’t just eat it – they enjoy it .
  • Consistent Growth: Its perennial nature ensures that deer have a consistent source of food, allowing them to develop a preference over time.
  • Leaf Texture: The soft leaves of white clover are easier for deer to consume, making it a preferred choice over tougher forages.

Given these factors, it’s no wonder that many plots with white clover see frequent deer visits.

Red Clover’s Nutritional Benefits

While red clover might not always be the first choice for deer based on taste alone, its nutritional content is undeniably superior in many aspects.

  • High Protein Content: Red clover boasts a higher protein content than many other forages, ensuring that deer get the nutrition they need for growth and health.
  • Digestibility: Its digestibility means that deer can extract more nutrients from red clover compared to other plants.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Rich: Beyond protein, red clover provides essential vitamins and minerals necessary for deer health and antler growth.

For deer managers focused on providing optimal nutrition to their herd, red clover presents a compelling option.

Balancing Deer Preference with Nutritional Value

When choosing between red and white clover, deer managers must strike a balance. If sheer attraction is the goal, white clover’s allure is hard to beat. However, for those looking to boost the overall health and nutrition of the deer population, red clover offers robust benefits. Often, the best approach might be a mix, ensuring that deer are both attracted to the plot and receiving the nutrients they need.

Longevity and Sustainability in Deer Food Plots

When considering which clover to plant in deer food plots, it’s essential to think long-term. Both red and white clovers have different life cycles that affect their longevity and sustainability. Recognizing these differences can help you make an informed decision, ensuring your food plot remains productive over the years.

Red Clover’s Biennial Nature

Red clover, while a powerhouse of nutrition, has a shorter life span compared to its white counterpart.

  • Biennial Growth: Red clover typically lasts for two years, after which it needs replanting. This means that while it might be vibrant and lush in its prime, it will require more frequent maintenance.
  • Multiple Harvests: Despite its shorter life span, red clover can yield multiple harvests per year, ensuring a steady supply of forage.
  • Growth Cycle: The first harvest usually happens 60-70 days post-seeding, with subsequent harvests occurring every 30-35 days.
Growth AttributeRed Clover
LifespanBiennial (2 years)
Harvests per Year2 to 3
Time to First Harvest60-70 days post-seeding

White Clover’s Perennial Growth

White clover is the marathon runner in the world of clovers. Its perennial nature allows it to provide forage for several years without needing replanting.

  • Extended Lifespan: White clover can thrive and produce forage for multiple years, reducing the frequency of replanting.
  • Steady Growth: Its consistent growth ensures that deer have a regular food source, fostering a sense of familiarity and preference.
  • Less Maintenance: Given its extended life cycle, white clover plots typically require less maintenance and intervention.
Growth AttributeWhite Clover
LifespanPerennial (Multiple years)
MaintenanceLower compared to red clover
ConsistencySteady growth over the years

Deciding Based on Plot Maintenance

In the contest between red and white clover, longevity plays a crucial role. If you’re looking for a set-it-and-forget-it approach, the perennial nature of white clover might be more appealing. However, if you’re open to more frequent interventions and want to capitalize on the nutritional benefits of red clover, it’s a worthy contender. Your decision should align with how long you plan to maintain your plot and how often you’re willing to intervene.

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Competition Between Red and White Clover

In the realm of deer food plots, mixing different plants can either be a recipe for success or a potential challenge. The interaction between red and white clover is a topic of debate among deer managers. Should you plant them together, or is it better to keep them separate? Let’s delve into the intricacies of this competition and determine the optimal strategy for your plot.

The Debate: To Plant Together or Separately?

The decision to mix or segregate red and white clover in a plot has sparked numerous discussions.

  • Competition for Resources: Both clovers, when planted together, might compete for vital resources like nutrients, water, and sunlight.
  • Growth Patterns: Their different growth patterns could lead to one overshadowing the other, potentially stifling growth.
  • Yield Optimization: Some argue that keeping them separate optimizes the yield of each, ensuring neither is compromised.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, understanding the factors that influence their growth when combined can guide your decision.

Factors Influencing Growth

Several considerations come into play when thinking about mixed planting of red and white clover.

  • Soil Composition: Depending on the nutrient composition of the soil, one clover might naturally thrive over the other.
  • Watering Regime: White clover’s affinity for wetter conditions might give it an edge in moister plots, potentially overshadowing red clover  .
  • Maintenance and Care: The care and maintenance provided can influence the success of one clover over the other. For example, ensuring even distribution of resources might allow both to flourish.
FactorRed Clover PreferenceWhite Clover Preference
Soil CompositionVaries  Varies
Watering ConditionsModerateWet 
Maintenance LevelRegularMinimal

3 Best Practices for Integrating Both Clovers

Given the complexities of mixing red and white clover, what’s the best approach? If you’re keen on integrating both:

  1. Study Your Soil: Understand its nutrient composition and tailor your planting strategy accordingly.
  2. Monitor Watering: Ensure that the plot isn’t too wet for red clover while providing enough moisture for white clover.
  3. Regular Check-ins: Regularly monitor the growth of both clovers, intervening if one seems to be dominating excessively.

For many, the decision boils down to trial and error, coupled with a deep understanding of the plot’s conditions. Both clovers have their merits, and with careful planning, they might just coexist harmoniously.

Benefits of Planting Red Clover for Deer

Red clover isn’t just a visually appealing addition to any deer food plot—it brings with it a suite of benefits that can enhance the health, attraction, and overall experience of deer on your land. Let’s delve into the specific advantages of red clover and why it’s a forage option worth considering.

Attractiveness and Palatability

Deer, much like humans, have their gastronomic preferences. Red clover often sits high on their list, but why?

  • Taste: Red clover provides a flavorful bite that deer seem to favor, making them frequent visitors to plots where red clover is abundant  .
  • Texture: The soft, palatable leaves of red clover are easily consumed, ensuring deer get the most out of every mouthful.
  • Nutritional Content: Beyond taste, its rich nutritional profile makes it a healthy choice for deer, further increasing its attractiveness.

Resistance to Grazing Pressure

A successful deer food plot plant needs to be more than just tasty—it needs to be resilient. Red clover demonstrates a commendable resistance to grazing.

  • Growth Regeneration: Even after being grazed upon, red clover has the ability to bounce back and regrow, ensuring a consistent forage supply  .
  • Durability: Its inherent toughness allows it to withstand the pressures of heavy browsing without significantly diminishing.

For those with a high deer density, the resilience of red clover can be particularly beneficial.

Tonnage Production

The sheer volume of forage a plant produces is crucial in sustaining a thriving deer population. Red clover doesn’t disappoint in this department.

  • Abundant Growth: Red clover is known to produce a significant amount of forage, often outperforming other options in terms of sheer volume.
  • Multiple Harvests: Its biennial nature allows for multiple harvests in a year, ensuring deer have a steady food source.

With the right conditions and care, red clover can be the powerhouse of your deer food plot.

FactorRed Clover Production Benefits
Growth AbundanceHigh volume of forage 
Harvest FrequencyMultiple times a year 

Red clover presents a compelling case for its inclusion in deer food plots. From its delightful taste to its resilience against heavy grazing and its abundant production, it’s a choice that can ensure both happy and healthy deer. While every plot and situation is unique, the benefits of red clover make it a contender worth considering.

Advantages of White Clover in Deer Management

White clover is not just another plant in the vast repertoire of deer forages. It stands out for several reasons that make it an invaluable asset in deer management. From its rich nutritional content to its longevity, white clover brings a bouquet of benefits to the table. Let’s delve into these advantages and understand why white clover might be the missing piece in your deer management puzzle.

Nutritional Aspects

One of the primary reasons for planting forage is to nourish the deer, and white clover excels in this department.

  • Protein Powerhouse: White clover is renowned for its high protein content, ensuring that deer receive the essential nutrients they need for growth and overall health  .
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Apart from protein, white clover offers a spectrum of vitamins and minerals, crucial for deer health and antler development.
  • Digestibility: Its high digestibility ensures that deer can efficiently extract and utilize the nutrients it offers.
Nutritional AttributeWhite Clover Offering
Protein ContentHigh, essential for deer health 
Vitamins and mineralsDiverse and essential for deer
DigestibilityHigh, ensuring efficient nutrient uptake

Ease of Establishment

For those venturing into the world of food plots, the ease with which a plant establishes itself can be a determining factor. White clover shines here.

  • Hardiness: White clover is relatively resilient and can establish itself even in challenging conditions.
  • Seed-Soil Contact: Broadcasting its seeds over loose soils, especially in late winter, can yield excellent seed-soil contact, promoting swift growth.
  • Growth in Various Soils: While it has its preferences, white clover can adapt and grow in a range of soil types.

For beginners in food plot planting, the forgiving nature of white clover can be a boon, ensuring success even if things aren’t perfect.


Sustainability is key in deer management, and white clover’s perennial nature ensures it remains a consistent food source for years.

  • Perennial Growth: Unlike some plants that need replanting every year, white clover can continue to thrive and offer forage for multiple years.
  • Consistent Forage Supply: Its steady growth ensures that deer always have something to munch on, fostering familiarity and preference over time.

The lasting impact of white clover’s perennial growth ensures that deer have a consistent and nutritious food source year after year.

Comparison Chart Of Red and White Clover Benefits for Deer

Growth AttributeWhite Clover’s Benefits
LifespanMultiple years (perennial) 
Forage SupplyConsistent and reliable

White clover offers a medley of advantages that make it a prime candidate for deer management. Its nutritional richness, the ease with which it establishes, and its lasting presence make it a favorite not just among deer but also among those who manage deer habitats. Whether you’re a seasoned deer manager or just starting out, the benefits of white clover are hard to ignore.

Growth Patterns: How Quickly Do Red and White Clovers Grow?

When plotting a deer food plot, understanding the growth patterns of your chosen plants is crucial. This knowledge helps in timing your plantings perfectly and ensuring a consistent food source for deer. Both red and white clovers, while popular choices have distinct growth patterns. Let’s explore these patterns and see how they can influence your deer management strategy.

White Clover’s Speedy Germination

White clover is often lauded for its quick germination, but what factors influence this rapid growth?

  • Temperature and Moisture: White clover typically germinates best in temperatures between 60°F and 70°F. Adequate moisture, especially during the initial days, can significantly speed up germination.
  • Soil Fertility: Rich, well-draining soils tend to support faster white clover germination.
  • Germination Time: On average, white clover takes around 7-10 days to germinate after planting, given the right conditions.
FactorInfluence on White Clover Germination
TemperatureOptimal between 60°F and 70°F 
Soil MoistureCritical for rapid germination 
Soil FertilityRich, well-draining soils preferred 

Red Clover’s Flowering Cycle

Red clover, on the other hand, impresses with its swift transition from seeding to flowering.

  • Rapid Flowering: Red clover can produce flowers in as little as 41 days, a testament to its rapid growth cycle.
  • Factors Influencing Growth: Like white clover, red clover’s growth is influenced by temperature, moisture, and soil fertility. However, red clover can sometimes tolerate a broader range of conditions.
  • Multiple Harvests: Its fast growth allows for multiple harvests within a single year, ensuring a steady supply of forage.
Growth StageRed Clover’s Timeline
Germination to FloweringAs little as 41 days  
Harvest FrequencyMultiple times a year 

Timing Your Plantings for Optimal Deer Attraction

Understanding the growth patterns of red and white clovers can help in optimizing your deer food plots. If you seek quick germination and steady growth, white clover might be the best bet. However, if you’re looking for rapid flowering and multiple harvests, red clover stands out. By timing your plantings based on these patterns, you can ensure a consistent and attractive forage supply for deer throughout the year.

Final Thoughts: Making the Right Choice for Your Deer Population

Choosing between red and white clover for your deer food plot is more than just a botanical decision—it’s about understanding the unique needs of your deer population and marrying that with the specific conditions and goals of your land. Both clovers have their merits, but making the right choice often transcends textbook knowledge. Let’s explore the factors you should consider before making a final decision.

Personal Experience: Trial and Error

Sometimes, the ideal way to determine the best fit for your plot is through personal experience.

  • Past Plantings: Reflect on your past plantings. Did one type of clover fare better than the other? What feedback did you receive from observing the deer’s behavior?
  • Microclimates: Small variations in sunlight, moisture, and soil composition within your plot can make one clover a better fit over the other.
  • Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Dedicate a section of your plot to each clover type and observe the results over a season.

While research and expert advice can guide you, sometimes the best lessons come from firsthand experience.


Before planting, it’s essential to take a holistic view of your plot and consider several factors.

  • Soil Conditions: Test your soil. Does it lean more towards the conditions that favor red or white clover?
  • Deer Preferences: Observe the deer in your area. Do they show a marked preference for one type of clover over the other?
  • Long-term Goals: Are you looking for a short-term solution or a long-term strategy? Your goals can influence your choice, given the different life cycles of red and white clover.

By considering these factors, you can tailor your choice to the unique needs of your plot and its deer inhabitants.

Conclusion: Red or White, Making the Right Choice

Whether you choose red clover for its rapid flowering and nutritional benefits or white clover for its longevity and ease of establishment, the ultimate goal is to provide a nutritious and consistent food source for the deer. Both clovers have their strengths, and the best choice often lies at the intersection of research, personal experience, and specific plot conditions. Remember, the right choice is the one that benefits both you as a manager and the deer that frequent your land.

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