Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Deer Girdled Our Fruit Trees!

After four years of care, our fruit trees finally reached a height where deer damage isn't a concern.  The deer will prune the lower branches for us, but the trees are tall enough to survive.  This fall Jon decided to remove the cages from around the trees because mowing grass around the cages are a hassle, weed-whacking inside the cages several times each summer is a hassle, and all that fencing is an eye-sore.  The trees looked absolutely beautiful standing proud in our field; until one night, deer decided to rub their antlers on their trunks and rip their bark off!   It only took one night of exposure for twelve out of the thirty-one un-caged trees to be girdled.  This was certainly a devastating blow after four years of care.  Some of the trees are even loose in the ground from the force the deer exerted on their trunks. 

A week after this happened, we ran into a retired DNR Forester who has had great success with hanging an empty pop can from a rope from a low branch to keep deer from rubbing.  If only we knew this before the trees were girdled!  

What can we do to help the trees that have already been girdled?  Some say the trees will either live or die no matter what an orchardist does to help the situation. One common treatment is covering the wound with latex paint to protect the inner cambium layer and seal off the potential for disease. 

If there is a strip of bark 1/4-1/2 inch thick still in-tact the full length of the trunk, the chances of survival are even higher. 

This is one hard lesson learned, that's for sure!


Christopher January 31, 2016 at 5:36 PM  

I haven't had trouble with deer (knock on wood) so far, but I've had trouble with my own weed eater taking bites out of my trees. I've used corrugated drain tile (black, around 4-6" diameter comes in either 10' or 50' sections) to protect the bottom 6-10" of my trees, but I don't see why it couldn't be used in a longer section to protect your trees all the way up to the lowest branch. I take a sharp knife and cut the entire length of the section I need for a given tree, so that I can spread open the pipe far enough to slide it around the tree and allow the split to close back up. It's usually 4" in diameter, so you can get several years of use before the trunk size becomes too big to fit in the pipe.

What's nice about the corrugated pipe, is it's durable enough I can even hit it occasionally with the weed eater, and it won't damage the tree or pipe, and there's no cage, etc., to weed eat around. Either way, I hope your tree recovers well, I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya. :)

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A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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