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Chicory is a broad-leafed, cool-season perennial herb or forb, and is a highly nutritional crop that is actually part of the Sunflower family. Chicory has a relatively deep taproot that allows for some drought tolerance and it produces leafy growth for forage.
Chicory is suited to well or moderately-well drained soils, if compaction is not a problem. Chicory prefers soil with moderate to high fertility, and a pH of 5.5 or greater. Soils that are waterlogged or heavy clay tend to limit the stand life of Chicory. This forage crop can be grown throughout the country.
Chicory has good seedling vigor, and due to its relatively deep taproot, can tolerate drought conditions well. It can be seeded from September to October in a prepared seedbed at a rate of 5 lbs. per acre. It should not be planted too late in the Fall, because the shortened day and lower temperatures impede establishment. Chicory should be planted in full sun and will not tolerate much shade. Weeds are a potential problem for establishment of Chicory. Make sure that grass has been suppressed at the time of planting to reduce competition. When seeding Chicory in a mixture, it is often a good idea to include a legume, because legumes have nitrogen-fixing abilities from which Chicory will greatly benefit.
With enough moisture, Chicory food plots can persist for several years and will continue to draw deer to this tasty herb. In order to achieve maximum life (five to seven years) of a Chicory stand in a pasture, proper grazing management must be considered. Spring-seeded Chicory may be grazed after approximately 90 days, depending on growing conditions, but care must be taken to prevent overgrazing. A stubble height of 1.5 - 2 in. must remain after grazing for optimal productivity. It is recommended as a pasture forage with rotational grazing. For food plots, mowing may need to occur several times during the Summer months to discourage bolting (flowering). Chicory cannot be used for hay due to high water content.