Another strange thing is I had apples right next to the peach trees. I picked a nice crop of Honey Crisp that were perfect ripeness. Granted this was weeks after my peaches disappeared. Also pears untouched, other apple varieties untouched.
Coons prefer the restaurant type of experience and allow the help to clean up the mess they leave under a tree- pits at least (terrible tippers). Squirrels are more into fast food, grabbing their orders and eating elsewhere- they seldom leave a clue beyond breaking very small twigs on the tree. Coons break much bigger pieces and bears- well they are pretty obvious.
Crows also eat either off the tree or off the ground where they knock the fruit, leaving seeds. Bucks are capable of knocking off fruit by butting a tree and can also get quite high on their hind legs (for some reason it seems does don’t work this hard here). I don’t know if deer leave seeds or not.
I would estimate that 90% of the time people suspect other people around here- squirrels are the real culprits. They can be very sneaky and make off with prodigious quantities quickly, sometimes leaving me to wonder where the 100’s of pits might be.
I think you can probably assume that humans wouldn’t bother stripping a tree virtually clean- at least when they fear being caught.
What Alan said 2X. Squirrels are able to completely strip a tree here. My guess is that it was squirrels, especially since they had a significant window to get the job done.
I hope you do put the trail cam up. Hopefully you can protect your trees next year, but I bet the trail cam would make some interesting footage.
I think part of the reason they leave partial fruit in my yard is they know a dog is around. I have seen them drop fruit to run for their lives! So far he has only killed one of them, and broke the leg of another that got away. I praised Jesse highly and fed him steak.
Haha. Same in my yard. I watch out the back window and when I see squirrels waltzing around my garden I call my dog over to the back door. She goes chasing after them and they take off like nothing you’ve ever seen, leaving behind whatever they were nibbling on. It’s great entertainment.
In this area both racoon’s and squirrel pull that trick. Seems odd no matter which thief it was. A human leaves the small ones, bird pecked,insect damaged etc. and tire trscks, latter or bucket marks. A trail cam would be the only real way to know. Whatever did it could not haul off 10+ 5 gallon buckets of peaches without a trace.
I didn’t read all the evidence. If there was tall grass that was matted down and people could pick without any fear of being caught, I suppose it could be human but it’s very surprising to me that they’d take every last one of them.
One thing I do know. Growing fruit in a small orchard far away from your ability to observe is not the most promising of scenarios.
I did read the anomaly evidence (i.e. matted grass and apples untouched) but the other signs seemed to strongly support squirrels to me. Matted grass is somewhat subjective, and I’ve seen squirrels in my own orchard go after peaches while not touching apples.
Of course it’s just a long distance guess, but my guess is squirrels.
Squirrels take them all in 4-5 days right before harvest? Ya they could take them all over several months. But I’m not buying squirrels and no evidence left behind in a few days.
But who knows when it’s second hand info.
You could also have a combination of people and critters behind the disappearance. It’s not necessarily limited to one or the other. I can understand someone picking them clean of all the peaches they thought were worth keeping if they were under the impression that the owner was just going to let them rot because he wasn’t around.
It could have been done at night, so no way to judge what ones are good, just take them all and sort them out later. What I would have did if I were stealing them
There can be a lot of squirrels in an area and I’ve seen them remove an amazing amount of fruit in a short time- hundreds of pounds. When you are experienced with them you can read their effect on the tree after they remove its fruit as compared to coons or other wildlife. However, in my part of the country they only seem to cross large areas of meadow when they are starving. They don’t like traveling through tall grass and are more secure in the presence of tall trees. When they are epidemic and out of food they will become much more bold, however.
Ok, so the same thing happened to my peaches as well. One day tons of fruit top to bottom on a 15 foot tree. Almost perfectly ripe, but I decided to wait an extra day or two. The next day, everything was gone. I think there may have been 1 or 2 pits left on the ground. There were no half eaten peaches, or rotting fruit. This tree is 20 feet from house, and I live on a quiet cul de sac. I find it hard to believe my neighbors would do this.
I puzzled over that, but today I discovered one of my Apple trees is stripped. Every last apple is gone. Again, no half eaten apples on the ground. Both of these trees are way too tall for the deer, and I thought squirrels ate a bit and threw them down. But even if they don’t, how many squirrels would it take to totally strip a tree in one night? So bummed.
One or two squirrels only.
If it was done at night it was not squirrels, it was likely raccoons.
From time to time, my trees have been visited in late summer or early fall by a mother raccoon and 3, 4, or 5 of her 3/4 grown babies. They can take a lot of fruit…
I have had the same trouble, when the days are long in June I have had raccoons come to my peach tree well before dark, I guess they couldn’t wait. I find them easy to live trap with a can of sardines in oil. I thought they like that as much as peaches
Day time - squirrels, groundhog/woodchucks. Night time - raccoons, opossums.
You can set up a camera to see what help themselves with your fruit.
I just saw my resident groundhog in my backyard. It stood on two legs with two front paws holding and eating MY apple. When I moved to grab a camera, it ran off.
I wonder if groundhogs remember their food source from the previous year once they come out of hibernation. I saw this ground hog last year who I think lives some where else since I have not seen any burrows in my yard. But he never damaged my fenced in veggie patch. This year I planted sweet potatoes and the vines went so crazy they came out of the veggie garden over the fence. So groundhog discovered the sweet potatoe vines and then followed it to the veggie garden. I’m hoping by next year he’ll forget there’s food inside the fence. I won’t grow sweet potatoes and we’ll all go back to normal. Hopefully he’ll forget about my caged trees too. Probably wishful thinking.