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A bear pushed over my apple tree; can it be saved?

 
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I came home tonight to find a beloved apple tree lying on the ground. I suspect a bear because I saw one yesterday climbing the same tree trying to get the apples.

The tree appears completely unbroken, except for being horizontal. The roots are a bit pulled out of the ground, but otherwise seem intact.

If I can find a way to raise the tree back to vertical, is it possible to save the tree?
 
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Well it should be ok.  Nothing to do now but give it a try.
I would consider having a cable from the tree back to a long stake in the ground to try and persuade it to grow vertical again.
Also consider how you want to convince the bear that these apples are not that good...  30-30... fireworks ... fence .. poor choice that one..

Yes I have had great damage from  bears but the apple tree's have always survived...
 
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It is possible. Treat this as if it was knocked over in a storm.  The more  roots that are exposed, the poorer  chance of recovering. Poorer should not be read as impossible.  Keep the roots moist and covered....this can be with mulch.  The more you can reduce the strain on the tree the better.  I would remove any fruit on the tree.  Upright the tree. It may take some time to excavate.   Of course,  cover the roots. Keep it watered.   I have had mixed results. A great deal is out of your control.
 
Joshua Frank
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Well that's encouraging. I know one should normally prune in late Fall or early Spring, but it badly needs and pruning and with the branches on the ground, this would be much easier to do, and make the tree much lighter to raise back up. Do you think it's safe to prune, or would the extra injury to the tree be a bad idea when I'm trying to save it?

I was also realizing that this bear is going to be a nuisance as long as there are apples, and apples are the point of having the tree. I'm not sure how to deal with him. I'm sure normal fences won't do much. Do electric fences work? I rather doubt it. I could sort of imagine shooting him with rubber bullets, but for that I'd have to catch him in the act.
 
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Electric  will help.  My own bias is a good dog.
 
John F Dean
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Thinking out loud....I have never tried  this on a bear  ....but maybe tiger urine.  I have used wolf urine to keep coyotes away.
 
Joshua Frank
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John F Dean wrote:Electric  will help.  My own bias is a good dog.



A good dog does seem like the most elegant solution, although it's a big commitment and feeding the dog would probably cost more than the value of 100 years of apples from the tree. But I am seriously considering it anyway....
 
Joshua Frank
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John F Dean wrote:Thinking out loud....I have never tried  this on a bear  ....but maybe tiger urine.  I have used wolf urine to keep coyotes away.



Where would I get tiger urine? It'll be even harder to keep a good tiger than a good dog.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Joshua,

It can be bought off the net. Zoos sometimes sell it. I will try to dig up the information for you in the next 24 hours.
 
John F Dean
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www.predatorpee.com
 
John F Dean
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Hi Joshua,

The site recommends wolf urine for bears.  I have had it work for coyotes.   I have also heard of ammonia working, but I have never used it.
 
Joshua Frank
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Unfortunately, I was away from home so maybe it's too late, and maybe it was impossible to begin with.

I took a closer look and a pretty large main root is totally broken:



Also, the tree is big enough that I can't lift it, and I don't have the kind of power equipment to do so, although maybe I could get creative with ropes and pulleys.

The tree needed a good pruning, which I was going to do in late winter. I know that mid-summer is a bad time for it, but I'm wondering if I ought to prune the tree while it's down, to make it lighter (and, as a bonus, to be able to reach the top of the tree, which is now on the ground). Then it would be a lot lighter and easier to raise. But I don't know if more damage to the tree would be smart after such a major injury. On the other hand, if I can't get it back in the ground, more damage probably won't matter.

So, is pruning a good or bad idea here?
 
John F Dean
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It looks pretty awful, but I still hold out a minute amount of hope.  It could sprout from those roots by next spring.  I have havd two trees return from the dead this year.  
 
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An apple tree will probably survive that.  I've seen a lot of "old" apple trees that fall over and eventually become 4-5 apple trees growing straight up all in a perfect line where the trunk was.  You can prune it significantly where anything is in the way but it will start growing vertically from wherever you leave it.  

If you want to get fancier with a leaning tree, you can plant a small apple to brace it up and even graft the branches by tying them tight together.
 
Joshua Frank
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So should I prune the tree and raise it upright, or let it fall and sprout from the downed trunk? I don't love the idea of leaving it down, because it's in a prominent place in my yard, and looks pretty bad lying on the ground for years while it regrows.
 
John F Dean
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I had an old crab apple that looked pretty similar after a storm.  I got it upright the best I could....watered the tarnation out of it.... and trimmed it back a little.  It is still alive after maybe 10 years.  The two trees I referred to this year sent up new sprouts.  Of course, they are coming out of the old root system, so I expect their growth to be pretty rapid.   As to how much pruning, I rely more on dumb luck I suspect.  There are others here who know far more than me.
 
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