Apple sapling missing leaves

I have a few bench grafts growing in my nursery bed, and two of them have similar symptoms - almost all of the leaves are missing, and the petiole “stumps” each have a rust-colored tip. Does anyone know what this is and how to treat or prevent it?

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Looks like deer grazing to me. Pretty brutal. A cylinder about three feet in diameter will pretty well stop them until branches grow past the cylinder.

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I have 8’ tall deer fencing around everything, so that seems very unlikely. I also would probably have seen plenty of other damage if they somehow got in.

I agree, eight foot fence should do it.

Are you still thinking some vertebrate pest ate the leaves?

Typical ground hog damage

It does look a lot like deer browse…

For maximum deer protection, we recommend at least a 7.5’ high deer fence to protect crops from deer damage. Deer can jump an average of 8’ high , but will not risk the jump if they are uncertain because they have poor vertical vision.

If a deer was in that soft dirt you would be able to find tracks… especially where it landed when it jumped in… or where it leaped up on the way out.

Kids or perhaps you or others did not forget and leave the door open a night or two ?

What ever it was hope it does not come back.

Groundhog… have some serious teeth similar to beaver… could sure do that.

As opposed to cutworm type thing? Yes, I am. But I think @TNHunter and @poncirusguy are likely on the right track.

100% looks exactly like deer damage. Here is one of my jostaberry bushes that got hit.

I believe a rabbit’s been at work here. The cuts look fairly clean—which would be the mark of a rodent or lagomorph; deer browse usually features more fraying/crushing of tissues. Also, the 8’ deer fence makes that possibility unlikely. Rabbits—especially young ones—can squeeze through some mighty small holes.

This seems possible as well, particularly with the 45 degree angle cut at the top of the one tree stem. Anytime they show up and mow down young beans and other plants, I see that tell-tale angle. This year they topped a bunch of river birch seedlings I had in pots and I’ve also had them take off lower branches on bush cherries.

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Thanks guys! My enclosure definitely isn’t rabbit proof… yet. And I’ve definitely seen plenty of rabbits around. That or another random rodent seems pretty likely.

@NateConn… the guy in that youtube vid must have been a real animal lover, or he was just hoping to impress a bunch of animal lovers…

At the end he said, he was going to secure his garden with a fence like fort knox before next year…
But would plant another unprotected garden for the ground hog and his friends.

That’s not happening at my place :wink:
Ole Chucky would be in the crock pot.

If you are going to keep all those rabbits around you got some fence upgrades to go thru.

Good Luck !

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