Later we discovered some of the newly planted saplings ripped out of the ground and laying on top of the soil (photo at left). When I picked up the uprooted tree, I discovered that the very top seedling had been chomped and broken. It seems that our well-tended nursery trees proved to be an irresistible snack for browsing deer. When a deer chomped down on the shoot tip and pulled up to take a bite, the entire tree was lifted out of the loose dirt. Next time I plant seedlings in the fall, every tree will be protected by a welded wire tree cage (photo below).
|Welded wire tree cage|
In a previous post, I showed you the plastic trunk guards we have been using to prevent buck rub. This past August, we installed these guards on some young trees that were about 5 feet tall. The stems of these trees are roughly 1 to 1 ¼ inches in diameter—the perfect size for bucks to rub. We’ve had good success with these tree guards in the past so once installed around our trees, I thought our deer problems were over.
Today, I was out inspecting the grove and discovered the deer had removed several guards and then proceeded to rub the bark off the young trees (photo at left). How did that happen? If you look at the tree in the photo, you’ll note that the tree is just a single stem without and side branches. Most likely, a buck removed the cage right over the top of the tree while trying to rub the trunk. So here’s another lesson learned from the school of hard knocks. I need to use a welded wire tree cage around trees that are not yet large enough to produce the strong side shoots needed to keep deer from removing the plastic tree guard.
In our orchard, deer are an increasing problem. Based on this year’s deer damage, I have decided on taking the following steps.
> Install a welded wire tree cage as soon as a seedling tree is planted.
> Switch to a 3 foot plastic trunk guard once the seedling has enough clear trunk to hold the guard and enough stout side branches keep the guard in place.
|Plastic trunk guard|