At what height to remove fencing for apples and crabapples?

At what height of an apple/crab apple tree is a fence no longer necessary. I have a couple wild crab apples on my property that are about 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide and those seem to be fine.

I started out with three apple tree seedlings grown from seeds (circa 2011) and the wild ones that came on the property I purchased. The seedlings got mangled by deer but I replanted them and put deer fencing around them. These seeds were started in 2011. Last year the fencing and snow created a perfect environment for rabbits and they girdled one of the trees.

One apple tree is about 12 feet tall and the other is 9 feet. I removed the deer fencing from them last year and things seem to be fine.

I bought 1 prairie fire and 2 royal raindrops crab apples to add a little color last year. I have fencing around them now. The Prairie fire is about 8 feet tall right now and the the royal raindrops are about 7 feet tall. I have deer fencing around them and they are now successfully blooming this year.

I fence all my young apples with 4 foot high welded wire, in about a 3 foot circle around the tree. I let the tree get above the fence and start my branching between 40 and 48 inches off the ground. I have trees that are not touched by the deer that I keep in the 8 foot range, with all branching and fruiting below that.

The whitetails around me are overpopulated and I will experience deer damage if I don’t fence the young ones in. After they get larger, I may loose a few leaves, but far less damage is done.

My wife talked me into planting a Royal Raindrop this year. Very nice coloring and is a good change of pace from the typical green foliage and pink/white blooms of the orchard.


So 7/8 foot tall would be fine for no fencing? It doesn’t bother me if the deer get to the bottom branches. They tend to set the minimum branch height (4 feet) of every tree in the area. I was thinking to leave it this year and maybe remove the fencing next spring.

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My trees tend to get from whip to over the fence within 2 growing seasons. Once they are are around the 7 foot mark, I remove the fence.

Deer set the height of trees here as well, and that would cause an issue if they continually nipped off the branches as the trees were growing when they are young. Hence why I block them off until taller, and i start my branching at around 4 feet.

This is a Crispin that i have pruned to start branching at 50 inches off the ground. It was fenced off until last year, now it is above where the deer would typically eat.

Here is a Fuji that i branched lower but still have the fruiting wood and most of the branching above 48 inches.

Here is a Golden Delicious above 48 inches.

And a Honeycrisp started lower but with the main branching above 45 inches.

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Here is a Bartlett Pear. If you look in the background on the right side of the picture, you can see the fence enclosures of 3 new apple whips planted this spring.


I have removed protection from trees whose limbs are above browse level only to have the trunk destroyed by bucks in the fall.

I see I 'm not the only one who uses extra electric fence posts as cage supports!

This tree had 4.5 feet of trunk so I removed the fence this spring. Mistake or no? I will let you be the judge :laughing:


Do you have any problem with deer rubbing the trunk of your trees? They could do some major damage to the bark. I got several trees with major barks damaged in the past.

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What I do for rubbing is after I take the fence off I leave posts right by the trunk for a few years to limit rubbing. You can see the post on my destroyed tree picture above… no rubs!

This branch has now been taped back up, there was still some connecting bark left and it will eventually heal. Too bad about all the leaf damage though. Maybe it will help it branch more though - this is a P2 rootstock and it seems to want to shoot to the sky.


I only ever see a 2 pointer buck but never seen rub marks and have never seen a buck in my yard. I get a several doe with fawns that come into my mowed area of my yard and they pick at the lower branches and eat the fallen crab apples in the fall.

This pic is whatever random seed came out of a Honeycrisp apple (I would guess it is going to be a crab apple, my son grew it from seed.) I removed the fence last year from this tree.

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This pic is the Prairie Fire. I was thinking maybe at the end of the season I would remove the prairie fire fence and put some drainage tile around the trunk for a couple years. I don’t even stake the fence, I just roll it around the tree and tie the ends together. The prairie fire is 8 feet tall and the royal raindrops are about 7.


I live in a largely agricultural area with lots of open clover and corn fields and large parcels of timber. I rarely see any bucks in the orchard during the fall, August -November when they are rubbing trees.

Typically we have more of an issue with rubs in the timber, where the bucks rub the younger saplings.

They are super handy! With the clips for poly tape molded into them, I find I can hook the wires from the fence in, and I use 2, on opposite sides to hole my fences. The whips are stacked with Larch (or tamarack depending on where in the country you live) stakes on an angle as to not interfere with the developing root system.

I have thought about using black corrugated drain tile as tree guards, but i haven’t pulled the trigger on them yet, possibly this summer I will install some for protection this fall, and see how they do.

I like the idea of posts next to the trunk for protection from rubbing.

That’s brutal.

I have a nursery where my only protection is repellent, but when I sell and install small trees I protect them with a 10’ length of 5’ tall fencing (the minimum height for white-tail deer protection. I use a single stake of 2X2" 8’ tall pressure treated wood driven into the ground and weave one end of the fence through it closing the circle of fencing with the loose wire created by cutting the fence so it’s only on one end- the side not woven through the stake. I close the ring the fence makes by using only 2 or 3 of the wires so I can open the fence to tend trees easily. Memory suggests I use 14 gauge fencing but all I’m sure of is that it’s the cheapest fencing HD carries.

When the tree has grown to about 10’ tall or above and is well branched above the brows line, I remove the fence and low scaffolds so I can use a 3’ length of fence to create a cylinder around the trunk. Somehow, 3’ is all that is necessary here to protect from buck rubs.

I always aim to to the least possible to get same results. It pisses me off when lawn contractor workers open up my cage and then close it by weaving every single loose wire though the other end of the fence. Don’t they know that deer don’t have fingers!