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scrimshaw33
03-06-2010, 08:54 PM
Finished at dark planting my 26 apple trees (13 varieties all DR) and 4 Keiffer Pears.

I spaced my trees out 20 feet and have two rows of them with 30 yards between the two rows. I'm planting ladino clover in b/t the rows this fall and will get the soil prepped with lime and fertilizer this Spring, as well as spray a few times with roundup.

This Spring I am planting a hedge of hazlenut trees leaving room for dwarf chinkapin oaks that I will plant next year in b/ the filbert shrubs.

Planting was the easy part. What took a long time was cutting the cages, placing t-posts and drainage stone around the trees as well as my rodent guard.

The clover plot surrounded by the 30 fruit trees will be adjacent to a 50:50 corn/soybean mix to the East, and a 3 acre plot of 1200 cuttings in a drainage of silky and red osier dogwood, nanny bark, arrowwod, elderberry and various willows. In between the cuttings and clover/fruit trees and corn/soybeans is frost seeded CIR switchgrass for added edge. There's also a 1/8 acre pond 20 feet from the clover patch.

Surrounding everything to the West is thick cover.

Some pics from today; you can see some lumber getting ready for haul out on Monday from my select cut, and my deer blind I'm still working in the upper left of one of the photos overlooking the 1.5 acre clover plot.

scrimshaw33
03-06-2010, 08:54 PM
Another photo:

scrimshaw33
03-06-2010, 08:55 PM
And a third:

letemgrow
03-06-2010, 08:57 PM
Wow very nice work!!

ureyes
03-06-2010, 09:10 PM
Looks great Scrim!

LongTimeGone
03-06-2010, 09:25 PM
Very nice work...you couldnt have asked for a better day if your place is anywhere near winston-salem. I was in visiting my wifes family and wow gorgeous weather here! I am putting in 20 Jap persimmons, 25 pears and 3 dolgos next week (11-18th) in KY where they are calling for rain the first half of my time. Its a good thing I took a week off to do it!

Where did you end up getting your trees and what varieties did you go with?

brushpile
03-06-2010, 09:28 PM
Beautiful! It's amazing what a motivated QDMer can do!

scrimshaw33
03-06-2010, 09:34 PM
Long time gone, about an hour from Winston. Got mine from century orchards in NC. I think many here have used them and they are really top quality. 1/2 were feathered and 1/2 were smaller caliper but all were high quality trees. I forget all the varieties I got, but they included Virginia Gold, Rockingham Red, Yates, Kieffer Pear, Kinard's seedling, old winesap, among others.

Thanks a lot Longtime gone, I haven't even thought about plums and persimmons yet. Guess I better add those to the list.

smstone22
03-07-2010, 08:13 AM
Very nice. Your deer will love you for that lol

fshafly2
03-07-2010, 08:38 AM
Great job! You and the deer/wildlife will benefit from your labors for sure...

-fsh

qdmohio
03-07-2010, 07:05 PM
Lots of hard work there. I hate to be the only naysayer, but I think you are going to regret making the cages so small in diameter around the trees. Most if not all of your trees will have new limb growth poking out of the cages this year. Unless you have a plan to protect that new growth once it pokes out of the cage (with a rotten egg spray or something similiar), your deer are going to have a heyday eating that new growth as soon as it pops out of the cage. Deer LOVE new, tender apple tree growth. Your tree will struggle to put on much upward and outward growth (especially this first year in your ground) if the deer keep nipping it and the tree has to keep regrowing it. I made small cages just starting out a few years ago too. I spent all that summer tearing my hair out about all the new growth the deer were nipping off. The next year I went back and made all the cages considerably larger.

Good luck.

smsmith
03-07-2010, 07:13 PM
I didn't want to say it, thanks for being the first "bad guy" qdmohio ;)

My experience was the same. Made smaller cages and had to replace them or add to them within 2 years. Wire is expensive, that's for sure. If you have a decent number of deer then bigger cages will be necessary in the future.

Bnhpr
03-07-2010, 07:26 PM
Cut the tree back to a health bud, and remove competeive leaders that try to form, within 4 inches of the dominant leader.

This will encourage a whip, that will clear the top of your cage this year.

scrimshaw33
03-07-2010, 08:51 PM
Thanks guys, I did go smaller on my cages. After reading posts on Brush's attempt at apples in tubes and talk of trimming all but a central leader to encourage upward growth, I planned to do just that, as Ben suggested. I have a 3.5 foot inner diameter, much more than a tube such as a plantra tube and can train the leader up until it gets above 60 inches.

DeerHuntingFool
03-08-2010, 08:47 AM
The cage size may not be an issue if your trees are semi-dwarf or standard size, and if you plan to start the first level of limbs at or above the top of the cage. My trees are all semi-dwarf and standard, and I very successfully protected them with cages that were only about 15" in diameter. IMO, most folks permit limb growth too low on the trunk. That makes it hard to work around and under the trees in later years. Don't forget that once the trees are bearing fruit, the limbs will hang even lower. This is why I like larger trees and then don't allow any limbs to grow below about 4.5-5 ft. I can easily drive under my trees with the garden tractor for mowing, spraying and etc. This also makes a tree that is less susceptible to ongoing browsing damage and early season fruit theft:D by the deer.
The biggest issue with a small cage is that the wind can cause the tree to rub on the top of the cage. This will cause trunk and/or limb damage if not controlled. I used pieces of rope or small sticks fixed in the cages to limit the tree movement. It worked great.
Nice job on your orchard!

scrimshaw33
03-08-2010, 10:18 AM
That was sort of my thought process deer hunting fool, that a lot of the trees I see the branches are too low. Another benefit in my situation to having them higher is to see deer under them and get clear shots. Ben helped me out with a PM, thanks Ben in how to train a central leader and scaffolds higher. Just seemed to me if tree tubes worked as long as you pinched off lower branches below top of tube, then a metal cage albeit narrower should definitely do the trick. Tubes are bad for other reasons like mice and insects getting in so I wouldn't use them for fruit trees anyways, but the concept of pruning lower branches I think will work and you can do it all in a smaller space that's open air such as a narrower metal cage. Also the cages I made are still quite large but I think Deer hunting fool's 15" cages is a great idea and could be the standard of care for deer hunter orchards for those of us trying to get more trees in for less money on cages and getting good results. It might take a little more pruning early on but the end result of apple production should be the same.

smsmith
03-08-2010, 10:29 AM
If it works it will certainly save money in the long run. It will require removing the cages more frequently to prune - but the money saved will be worth the labor I suppose. It will be interesting to follow this one scrimshaw - make sure you post at least annual updates. If it works for you, the rest of us using individual enclosures can learn from it.

DeerHuntingFool
03-08-2010, 11:14 AM
I meant no limbs below 4.5-5 feet (not inches). I corrected my original post.

scrimshaw33
03-08-2010, 05:20 PM
Unless something terrible happens to me and I stop qdming, I'll post pics in a year. I'm not sure why it wouldn't work? I think the disadvantage is that I will lose the first year in growing scaffolding branches, I'll have to start those my second year.

With a good growing season this year (if I have good nutrients and water, etc) the central leader should peak the cage. Then this Spring I'll clip the top to get a new central leader and encourage my first set of scaffolding branches, atleast that's how I understood Ben in doing it. Then the third year I'll do the same and get another set of scaffolding branches, etc. I don't know if the production would be less since you're encouraging scaffolding branches higher and "running out of room" for more scaffolds? Anyway, I'm not trying to break any production contests so hopefully results will be good enough to warrant the smaller cages.

Plus, it sounds like Deer hunting fool has already done so successfully, well done DHF! All my trees planted are semi dwarf btw.

smsmith
03-08-2010, 07:50 PM
The reason I can think of for it not working is that once the branches exit the cages they will have a natural tendency to "droop" - especially if you train them while young to be horizontal. Deer will still be able to reach those limbs easily because the ring around the tree doesn't keep them back away from the trunk any distance. If your deer really like apple wood, they'll stand on their back legs to get to the branches. Sounds like you've got lots of food in the ground or planned so it may not be a problem.

brushpile
03-08-2010, 08:28 PM
I planted my trees in 2008, so they have grown for two years. The cages were in the way of the lower branches, but this year I pruned those branches off anyway... problem solved.

Last year I was pulling the branches down and tieing them down. I applied alittle too much pressure on one tree, and it split the trunk right down the middle.:eek: So I cut the trunk off at about four feet. Amazingly, that tree recovered, and is the same size as the trees around it!!! It's amazing how that tree recovered.

You don't grow a tree so much as you grow the roots. Of course the tree needs to be trained, but if you have good roots, the tree can take quite a bit of pruning, as my four foot stem proved.

scrimshaw33
03-08-2010, 08:50 PM
I should be able to get it to work regardless, just might lose some time by pruning the lower branches off. I agree Brush, I think most trees especially those established are just like most living things, we fight to the end.

Great point Smith about drooping limbs.

I'm wondering though for those using larger cages, aren't you still getting drooping limbs once cages are removed? Surely even a 5 foot diameter cage will eventually interfere with the tree's limbs just as a 3 foot diameter cage would? Is it that the tree is older and thus able to withstand browsing or what? And how are you guys even getting limbs from getting caught up in a 5 diameter cage? Seems to me that even that would be too "small".

smsmith
03-08-2010, 08:56 PM
I should be able to get it to work regardless, just might lose some time by pruning the lower branches off. I agree Brush, I think most trees especially those established are just like most living things, we fight to the end.

Great point Smith about drooping limbs.

I'm wondering though for those using larger cages, aren't you still getting drooping limbs once cages are removed? Surely even a 5 foot diameter cage will eventually interfere with the tree's limbs just as a 3 foot diameter cage would? Is it that the tree is older and thus able to withstand browsing or what? And how are you guys even getting limbs from getting caught up in a 5 diameter cage? Seems to me that even that would be too "small".

You are correct sir...a number of threads here about that very thing. That's one reason why I asked you keep the board updated. Solve a problem that haunts all of us.

One thing about the limbs that exit a 5.5' to 7' diameter cage - they are much older and thicker caliper than those first or second year limbs. Even if the tips get browsed, very little damage is done.

All of us using individual and group enclosures will eventually face the same issues. When do you leave your trees completely unprotected?

scrimshaw33
03-08-2010, 09:04 PM
Gotcha. How much does a scaffolding branch sag from 180 degrees or horizontal? I wonder if one could as Brush stated just prune the entire branch or better yet train the scaffolding branches so that they are high enough so that when the branch sags it is well above the browse line.

What is the browse line? We know it's about five feet or 60 inches, but what is it for a deer on it's hind legs? Can you ever protect an apple tree? I think you can. There are many people in my area that have one or two apple or pear trees in their back yard and I always see deer eating them. They are unprotected. Maybe if we give them the start for a few years and protect the trunk from rubs they will be OK?

brushpile
03-08-2010, 10:18 PM
I'm only two years ahead of you on apples, but have pruned mine above four feet. We'll see how that goes. I only know half of what I see. When I want the right answers I ask Ben, Maya, or start Googling.

DeerHuntingFool
03-09-2010, 08:54 AM
Gotcha. How much does a scaffolding branch sag from 180 degrees or horizontal? I wonder if one could as Brush stated just prune the entire branch or better yet train the scaffolding branches so that they are high enough so that when the branch sags it is well above the browse line.

What is the browse line? We know it's about five feet or 60 inches, but what is it for a deer on it's hind legs? Can you ever protect an apple tree? I think you can. There are many people in my area that have one or two apple or pear trees in their back yard and I always see deer eating them. They are unprotected. Maybe if we give them the start for a few years and protect the trunk from rubs they will be OK?


I don't lose any sleep over the deer nipping at the lower branches on my trees. Unless you grow the trees in an enclosure, you really can't prevent it. If you do grow the trees in an enclosure, then what good are they to the deer? The deer can't get to the fruit if the trees are inside an enclosure.

Like I said earlier, I prefer larger size trees and don't start the branches until about 5 ft. With an established/mature semi-dwarf tree, a little browsing by the deer on the lowest level of branches doesn't hurt a bit. IF you think about it, there is still 10+ feet of productive, fruit-producing growth above that first level of branches. Also, I've noticed that as the trees have gotten older, the browsing has declined quite a bit. The deer may nip the ends of some of the branches, but they don't bother the thicker wood.

IMO, the last sentence in you post is spot on. Or at least that has proven to be an effective strategy for me. I think you are going to have an awful nice setup in a few years.