Radishes and turnips are both part of the brassica family, which is well known as one of the top food families for deer.
However, while they are both great options, they differ slightly when it comes to creating food plots.
Radishes are generally more attractive to deer, but turnips last longer and tolerate cold better.
Attraction For Deer
Both turnips and radishes can be a hit or miss for deer. None of them have the same attraction to deer as sugar beets.
However, radishes seem to perform marginally better than turnips, especially daikon radishes.
If you are working with fussy deer, you may find that they will eat the tops of the radish and leave the rest. But in a field with mixed radish and turnip, deer will nearly always go for the radish first.
One drawback of the radish, however, is that they will die off quicker than turnips.
So later in winter, when the radish is gone, turnips are still going well.
If you are not planting both and are looking for a good attractive plot, radish and clover are an excellent blend.
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While the initial cost is about the same for both radish and clover, the overall cost will depend on perceived value.
Generally, turnips will outlast radishes by many weeks if not months. So by this measure, you get much longer from the crop.
However, if you are looking for something to draw more deer, then radishes are marginally better but still wouldn’t have the same draw as sugar beets.
Radish seeds can get a little more expensive depending on the brand you buy. Many brands will market their products in different ways, such as forage radish or tillage radish.
Generally, Daikon radishes will perform best for deer and are one of the more expensive types as they are generally for human consumption.
Oilseed radish may be a cheaper option as these seeds are typically for producing oil.
Turnips use almost half the amount of seeds as radishes. Turnips are generally planted at 5lbs per acre as a stand-alone crop, whereas Daikon radishes are usually planted around 10lbs per acre.
The amount will vary according to the type of seed and brand that you are using.
Although it may look like radishes would be more expensive right now, it’s important to look at the yield from both crops.
Radishes with good management can yield up to 12 tons per acre which is twice as much as clover.
Turnips, on the other hand, can produce 8-9 tons per acre.
Ease of Planting
Both crops are easy to plant, but perhaps the radishes are a little more forgiving with soil quality.
Both seeds can be broadcast and lightly harrowed. Turnips are generally planted at about 5lbs per acre, whereas radishes are about 12lbs per acre.
One great advantage of planting radishes is their effect on soil improvement.
Radishes are one of the best performing cover crops with many benefits for soil improvement, in particular soil aeration, earning them the name of “tillage radish.”
Many studies have been done on the effects of the radish as a cover crop, and their number one attribute is its taproot system which leaves the soil porous and prevents it from compacting.
This gives the radishes a benefit over turnips if you are looking to improve the quality of your soil or plant another crop the following year.
Nutritional Value for Deer
Both brassicas are a valuable source of nutrition for deer and are almost equal in terms of value.
Turnips have about 15-20 percent protein content in both the roots and leaves.
Radishes offer a little more protein in the tops, with some containing up to 30% protein in some cases. The roots are also high in protein, with up to 20% available crude protein in some cases.
The biggest difference between these crops is when the nutrition is available.
While the radishes offer more protein, it’s generally at a time when it is less needed.
Once the frost comes, deer will start looking for more protein sources; however, it’s at this time radishes will begin dying off.
Although, it’s worth noting that frostbitten radishes still contain a large amount of protein.
But usually, this time of year, deer will start focusing on turnips if there are no more attractive options around.
In most cases, radishes look like a better option than turnips. Many hunters will plant both with the radishes being an early-season draw and the turnips as a reliable source of nutrition for later in winter.
However, hunters often find that deer are still not interested in turnips. If this is the case for you, then perhaps a radish and clover mix is a more suitable option.
Radish can be used as an early-season draw, while the clover can be a winter crop.