Preemptively forfeiting everything the deer can reach?

Where deer pressure is substantial what do you all think of just training trees/pruning off lower limbs to where all the fruit is out of reach of the deer? I’m starting to move in this direction in a lot of areas on my small farm, but I don’t really know how it’s going to work for me. Obviously, it’s going to mean doing a whole lot more from a ladder than I might otherwise. I’ve also wondered if there could be any issues with top-heavy trees. Will eliminating lower branches affect the shape and form of my trees in ways I’m not foreseeing? I’m imagining trees that will be shaped basically the same as they would in a regular orchard or backyard except with an additional 4’ or so of trunk between the ground and the first scaffold.

I’ve even considered building a kiwi trellis 7 or 8’ off the ground. I was thinking I have a small wagon I could place underneath the vines that would get me up high enough to prune and pick, etc., but I’d be able to move around (at least the limited area of the wagon floor) without continually moving a ladder around. Is this just a crazy idea I should completely forget about?

That’s what they do around here. My deer seem to avoid anything above 5 feet. I’m protecting my low branches so they can grow to above that, then not keeping leafy growth below 5 feet. Each tree has a cage. When the trees are tall enough, I intend to remove the cages for easier tree maintenance.

A lot of apple trees around here look pretty strange - bare trunks up to about 10 feet, with horizontal branches growing out from there. They prune them annually to spurs off the horizontal branches. I wanted to have low trees. I’m getting older. I don’t want to be on ladders. But I have to be realistic about the satanic deer.

On bike rides I’ve seen them standing up on their hind legs to browse on trees!

Long legged vermin. Try the movable monofilament fishing line trick. String it between fence posts, deer can’t see it at night and are very skitish when they bump something they can’t see. If you move it from time to time they won’t get used to it. We have herds of 30-40 and everything fruit or veg has a fence around it. I’ve also started to lean a cattle panel on random posts moving them when I mow. Don’t forget how disgusting your bodily fluids are to deer also. My advise, drink more water when you’re in the orchard.

I like keeping young trees in a wire fencing ring 4’ high, maybe 6’ diameter. It’s nice to get a few scafold branches below browse level and then train them up. The rings come out once the tree has a decent amount of wood above browse level.

Ultimately, everything they can reach they will prune out, but if you can size up a few low branches, you get a lot more canopy just above browse level but not at the tip top of the ladder.

If you have a lot of trees, fencing them individually may not be cost effective. In the context of a farm, I would consider a Gallagher style electric fence. This is a unique design. I’m sure everyone knows how deer love soybeans. Here is what they did to my forage type soybeans:

Here is a picture of beans planted at the same time maintained the same but protected by a Gallagher-style fence:

This e-fence is a unique design. It is sort of 3 dimensional with an inner fence and outer fence. Deer could easily jump this fence but they don’t. It relies on both physical and psychological aspects of deer. The outer fence is a single strand of turbotape. This white flat tape is easy to see from a distance and flutters in the breeze as a visual cue that deer associate with the shock. When a deer approaches a fence, it will first try to crawl through before jumping over it. The spacing of the inner and outer fences are such that a deer can’t crawl through without getting a shock. The inner fence is two strands of turbo-wire. It is white but smaller in diameter. Deer can see something is there but can’t see it well. Their poor depth perception makes them very reluctant to jump this even though the could easily do it physically. Deer will readily jump a 2 dimensional electric fence that is 10’ tall. If you get the spacing right between the fences and the strand height right, the only time I’ve seen deer jump it is when they are fleeing from danger, not when trying to access food. You can see from the picture that deer will reach in as far as they can to eat the beans but don’t get inside the inner fence. You can google Gallagher deer fence for specifications.

One more trick. If you hang aluminum foil with peanut butter on it from the outer fence, curious deer will often attempt to lick it which is a great training aid.



Old topic… but germane to what I want. Was 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide enough to remove the fence around your trees?

I don’t plan on eating any of the fruits, I like the spring blossoms.

I’ve got that in my yard.
Not only do they stand on 2 legs for dinner, they actually take forward steps on those 2 legs. Right now they find asian pears very appetizing.

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