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Much to the dismay of many gardeners, deer do eat sweet potatoes and sweet potato plants. They’re one of a deer’s favorite foods! Fortunately, there are ways to keep deer away from your vegetable patch. Successful sweet potato harvest – here we come!

Will Deer Eat Sweet Potato Peelings?

Cubed sweet potato

Unfortunately, deer will eat just about any part of a sweet potato plant they can get to. While they prefer the interior of a sweet potato, the truth is that most deer are guided by their sense of smell.

This means they cannot distinguish between a sweet potato peel and the flesh. Even if the deer prefers the taste of the flesh of the sweet potato, they will not know that they are only eating peels until they start munching.

Do Deer Eat Sweet Potato Plants?

Deer will eat your sweet potato plants and vegetable harvest!

Absolutely. Again, while deer may prefer to eat just the flesh of the sweet potato, they are herbivores that will eat just about anything green. It’s not uncommon to find that they have eaten not only the fruit but the leaves and vines of the plant as well.

Can Deer Eat Sweet Potatoes, or Are They Poisonous?

Sweet potatoes are not poisonous to deer. In fact, the plants are a good source of several vitamins such as vitamin C and iron. They are also an excellent source of carbohydrates.

How to Keep Deer From Eating Sweet Potato Vines

Fortunately, there are several options for gardeners who want to keep deer away from their sweet potatoes.

To start, consider building a high fence. While low fencing will do little to discourage deer, a high fence will physically prevent them from reaching the sweet potatoes. Just keep enough room between the fence and the plants, as deer will dig under the fencing to get to these plants. You may even want to consider an electric fence.

If fencing is not an option, consider using a commercial product that lays down a scent the deer are adverse to. Deer will avoid the scent of predators, especially humans. For this reason, many gardeners try to keep their sweet potatoes in well-lit areas next to a house or other heavily trafficked area.

Some gardeners choose to incorporate sweet potatoes into their pest control. Essentially, they plant a border of sweet potatoes far away from their garden area. This lures the deer to a spot away from their garden, allowing them to keep their other plants deer-free.

Unfortunately, this method will require a large amount of land and a lot of upkeep. If the deer run out of sweet potatoes, they will come looking for other food sources.

Can You Feed Deer Sweet Potatoes?

Young Female Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Young female mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Because deer love sweet potatoes and they’re relatively easy to grow, hunters have figured out that they can plant a patch of sweet potatoes in places where it is illegal to feed deer. This will attract the deer to a hunting spot, and they hope they won’t get in trouble for baiting. However, make sure you check your state’s laws.

Each state has its own laws regarding deer feeding, and mostly it is not recommended. In some cases, it is illegal. Although it is nearly impossible to prove you’re growing sweet potatoes to attract deer and not for your own consumption – it doesn’t hurt to be careful.

In some states, such as Louisiana, laws that make it illegal to feed deer sweet potatoes are on the books. These laws intend to prevent baiting deer. A gardener will likely avoid trouble if a deer comes across their sweet potato patch and takes a few bites.

Be aware, however, that if a person plants sweet potatoes with the intent to lure deer onto their property, even if they do not intend to hunt them, there could be problems if the deer become a nuisance to surrounding neighbors.

Verdict: Are Sweet Potatoes Deer Resistant?

Absolutely not! Deer love sweet potatoes, and they’ll stop at very little to get to them. Keep your sweet potato patch in a fenced-off area and take steps to repel deer.

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