Best Apples for attracting deer?

Going back to deer chestnut crabs and arkansas black and liberty all seemed especially popular in the qdma forums.

I intend to try canadian strawberry, black oxford, and chieftan as older, zone 4 “homestead” apples in addiotio to the three above


I’ve found bark grafting of native root stock of 1"-5" in diameter to work pretty well. Make sure the trees are leafed out and the sap is flowing well so the bark peels easily. I cut the root stock at a very slight angle so water does not pool. I typically put my scions on the high side so water does not drain into the graft. I put a small back angle cut near the tip of the normal scion cut to expose some cambium on the back side as well. I wrap the scion in parafilm-M before grafting to give it as much time as possible to take before it dries out. I like electrical tape for bark grafting. It has a slight stretch and I think pressure helps a bark graft take. I use Doc Farwell’s to seal the wound but am careful not to get it in the graft. I add two things to the completed graft. I make a sun shield from aluminum foil to protect the scion from direct afternoon sunlight. I also tape a piece of bamboo to the tree next to the scion extending well above it to deter birds from lighting on the scion.

It is important to remove water sprouts from below the graft every few weeks for the first summer. I also use cable ties (loosely) to train the green growth after the scion takes for a central leader that first summer. The well established root stock pushes a lot of energy into the scion growth that first year and they can flop over if not supported. After they harden that first fall, I remove the electrical tape, bamboo, and everything. I continue to check for and remove water sprouts the second spring.

Timing seems to be important. In my area, 7A mid-May is about right most years.

My Yates and Michelin hold apples until mid to late December, dropping them slowly.

Whip and tongue grafting, like they said, after leaf out, seems to work better for me with persimmons than bud grafting.
John S

I think part of my problem is attempting to graft to fairly mature trees that have a lot of eastern shade. I have much more success grafting onto trees with morning sun. Hmm, think I’ll insert this in the tip for the day topic.

For persimmons, I’ve successfully bark grafted trees up to about 5" in diameter. Beyond that, the wound is pretty large and I’ve had a few die. One more backup technique I use on larger trees is this: If the graft doesn’t take, I let some water sprouts grow to sustain the root system. I choose one of them as the new central leader. The rest will be removed after they go dormant. The following spring I Whip & Tongue graft a scion to that water sprout.

Yates, Arkansas Black, and Callaway crab have been the principal apple varieties I’ve seen recommended for planting as soft mast trees here in the Southeast. The folks back home in AL at The Wildlife Group offer those and a number of late-ripening pears as well.

I have one very late pear selection that doesn’t even start dropping fruits until Thanksgiving, and will still have a significant portion of its crop hanging in the tree on New Year’s Day.
I also have a very productive native crab (M. coronaria/angustifolia/ioensis type) that produces larger-than average fruits that will last the entire winter on the ground - or until the deer eat them all.

1 Like

I wonder if Callaway Crab seed is available and if if grows true to type. I would be interested in some scion from Callaway and your crab.

Black Twig is another fairly disease resistant apple to consider for deer.

1 Like

Message me or email me (lpittman(at)murraystate(dot)edu); can provide scions.

The deer ate all my Yates this year and its right by the house where they usually don’t like to go. So I would say its a very good deer apple. They hang very tightly very long.

Now all I need is legal deer hunting in my yard and a freezer to put all the meat in :grinning:

1 Like

when I used to browse a qdma forum a bit, Dolgo, Chestnut crab, Arkansas Black, and Liberty got most of the attention.
Edit: Limbertwigs and goldrush came up a fair bit too…as well as kieffer pear

I don’t see where Kerr, Black Oxford, and a host of disease-resistant varieties like Dayton couldn’t compete as well…

long-term, my intention is to test out a bunch of russets and northern heirlooms (Chieftan, Canadian Strawberry, Wolf River, Black Oxford) as well as a handful of known disease-resistants like the Dayton above…I am getting pretty fond of russets, and if some made it I could see grabbing an apple or 2 on my way past the mast trees, and the others all had good reputations for doing pretty well in Z5.

In addition, I have found a tree I mentioned elsewhere that was still holding yellow, sweet, and largely unblemished apples about Nov 20 in a dog-park where there is no spraying at all, and lots of other apple trees absolutely smashed w/ curc and other apple pests…I want scions of that to test further. Planning to cut some later this week, if possible, will cut enough to add to my scion exchange list as well–it may have been a fluke year, but I was very impressed with that apple’s condition, and it clearly drops LATE

1 Like

I bought an Old-Fashion Limbertwig from Lawson’s Nursery, many years ago, with the intent of grafting from it as a late season soft mast tree for deer. It does ripen late; I’ve sampled a fruit or two from time to time… just don’t care for them. There are still some hanging in my tree right now… but that tree is probably coming down this winter to make room for something else.

The varieties “liberty” and “freedom” are good for the archery seasons. Stayman winesap works ok for the archery seasons too. The deer prefer the sweeter apples, however. Yellow and Golden Delicious would be preferred over the other varieties I mentioned.

If someone is looking for an apple to hang onto the tree into December and January, Granny Smith fits the bill. Smith’s will get mushy and turn to vinegar bags but the deer will still come looking for them to eat in January when they drop.