Alright, who done it?!

My poor Romeo Cherry tree was defoliated by something. :frowning: Any guesses on what? Deer, perhaps (despite my 5 foot fence)?

If it cannot be salvaged, any recommendations for sweet Cherry trees for Zone 4?


Maybe deer, because that wouldn’t be too unlikely, or maybe a smaller criminal, same thing has happened to my cherries and I am still puzzled.

I can’t believe they eat wood, I lost so many branches like that too

Looks like deer browsing to me

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I’d guess a deer and I’d also bet that it bounces back. From my experience, these romance cherries are resilient.

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It’s so odd. The deer didn’t touch anything else close by.

Try spraying it with red hot pepper spray, if it’s deer they will only take one bite next time, spray it weekly as new foliage emerges using a sticker in your spray to assure the capsaicin clings to each leaf! Make sure you spray downwind as it’s not good to breathe or get in the eyes while vaporized. Wear safety goggles when preparing and spraying!
Kent, wa


5’ is extremely short for deer.

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Yeah, I thought it would be enough of a deterrent when next time a hedge and road. Figured that much open space and a “barrier” would make it choose another snack.

Deer go for their favorites first. Now that is gone, they will move on to whatever else you have. The cherry will re sprout this year or next, but you will need a fence around it they can not get their heads through till it is big enough. Nothing short of a fence will give you any real reassurance.


Yes unmistakedly deer! Run another 5 foot fence directly on top of the old one. This isnt the best but it will work. It’s what i use over large areas.
Your going to have to change posts or sleeve steel posts over the top of your current posts

The problem with fences is when deer can see through them. If they can see through it, they will jump over it… unless it is too high which is about 9 feet.


@Fusion_power @HunterHomestead

Figured 10 feet but your likely right when you say 9 feet. It’s worth mentioning if there is a fence thats 5 feet there it will work but only if you dont give them a running jump at it. So a few electric fences just off the ground spread far apart works to. If you have multiple fences close together but not close enough to jump over them the deer will give up. Shocking a deer with an electric fence will deter them but they break these fences 4 or 5 times sometimes before they stop trying. You can run multiple strands of barbed wire as well if welded wire or woven wire expense is excessive for the current budget. If posts cost to much cut your own or make them out of used oil pipe.

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Unfortunately, while we are a bit in the country, we still live in a HOA and a neighborhood. So, I am not sure electric fences or fencing the orchard to 10 feet are possibilities. Perhaps, a larger hedge in front of the fence?

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In my experience deer go for my peaches and cherries but will not even touch other things weirdly enough. My apples, butternut, hazelnut, plums, plum hybrids like the necta zee nectaplum or try lite peach plum and pears have been completely untouched. Meanwhile the almond, persimmon and mulberry hardly touched. Like I said peaches and plums are the deer magnets.

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I know everyone is saying it was a deer, but did you trim the tops of the shoots or was that damage from the animal. I’ve had deer eat the leaves and tender shoots, but not the woodier parts. If you didn’t cut the shoots and they show 45 degree angle cuts, then it is most likely a rabbit, which I have chew off some shoots from my romance cherries as well. Deer tend to shred things more, but rabbits make neat 45 degree cuts mostly. I just can’t tell from the photo since the focus is a bit off.

It should survive the shock and bounce back as long as it wasn’t just planted this year. If it was more recently planted it may have a harder time. Either way it is definitely going to be set back.

@elivings1 Your deer have much more refined taste. Mine have no problem eating the apple and pear leaves just as fast as the others.

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Deer make those same browsing damaged angled branch tips. They show up here and browse on a tree once in awhile and it looks almost the same but the damage is at the 6 foot level usually.

In a test of various deer repellents I saw years ago, Deer Away with inedible egg solids was most affective- at the time it was the most commonly used repellent to protect young trees in lumber forests. I make my own spray with about one egg blended per gallon of water which usually works. To protect new growth an app must be made every two weeks during rapid growth. In the last few years I’ve added some Plantskydd, but at much lower rates than suggested, and let the mixture ferment before spraying. However, it does work before letting it get completely disgusting, even with only fresh eggs sprayed immediately. I like to make a huge batch for an entire season all at once.

You can also use bloodmeal and protect a tree for the entire season by putting some in a bottle or jar with water that allows the smell to come out of the sides but doesn’t let much rain water in and tying it to trees you want to protect. Just don’t bump into it and get the fermented blood on you- it is disgusting. That’s probably why it works so well.

I protect a few acres of unfenced fruit tree nursery. Right now, I see two bucks almost every eve working the grass between my trees and chewing on unsprayed branches of larger fruit trees. I use them to train my trees above the browse line because many are sold to people who don’t use deer fencing.

Muskrats will also selectively destroy small trees if your tree is next to a pond where they live.


And wear rubber gloves so you can throw them away after spraying.

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Interestingly, I have 3 peach trees, one of which is full of peaches and right next door to the cherry-less Cherry tree. It was untouched.

I may have to try some of the other options. I am throwing up a camera to see if I can catch the culprit so I can accordingly decide next steps. Although, I haven’t had an issue all season, so I bet I won’t spot anything.