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Controlling rabbit browse on young broad acre trees

 
Leo Ziebol
Posts: 11
Location: Central Iowa Zone 5a
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This year we planted about 900 12-18" bare root trees over 5 acres. Everything from pines and oak to dogwoods and chestnuts. We've had a lot of issues with rabbits chopping and sometimes munching them down to the ground. The .22 has helped weed out some of the culprits but I fear, especially going into winter later this year, that this problem will only get worse if we do not install a more permanent protection.

I've seen people use everything from rolled up chicken wire to buying plastic sleeves and anchoring with some sort of stake.

What have you guys used to alleviate this issue?

Thanks!
 
Neal Foley
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
5
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Not sure if Sepp's bone sauce is the answer to this problem, but it might be. Search the forums for it..... And maybe get a dog or two. As a temporary solution, you could go to Home Depot or equivalent and buy a 10ft length or lengths of flexible drain pipe--4" and cut it into sleeves to put around trunks. Cheap, quick and easy.....but it is buying something you will then throw away.... You can't leave them on too long or funky things can happen. The other alternative is to plant some other things the rabbits would like more than your trees..... Obviously there are either too many rabbits in your area, or something majorly lacking in their diet.

Put up some owl boxes while your at it.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1574
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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If they are coming through a fence line try these drop traps. You can clear a large number of rabbits very quickly and they continue to be effective for decades, even when the total rabbit population get small (other methods get less effective when there are fewer rabbit total - eg shooting).

Plus you get nice clean rabbit meat for the table with very little effort.

http://www.rabbittrap.co.uk/

 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
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Neal Foley wrote:And maybe get a dog or two. As a temporary solution, you could go to Home Depot or equivalent and buy a 10ft length or lengths of flexible drain pipe--4" and cut it into sleeves to put around trunks. Cheap, quick and easy.....but it is buying something you will then throw away.... You can't leave them on too long or funky things can happen.


I 2nd the motion on getting a dog. Or borrow a friend's terrier, they are the right dog for this job, I think. My LGDs would be useless.

Also, I just finished watching the Permaculture Orchard, which was great. He used those flexible drain pipes, cut into 2 or 3' lengths, and then cut again lengthwise so it couldn't harm the tree. He did say that he preferred 1/4" wire mesh that wasn't tied but left to curl around the trunk naturally.

For fruit trees he recommended leaving branches low so the rabbits would eat them instead of the bark around the trunk.
 
Michael Qulek
Posts: 148
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Drain pipe worked for me. Wire screen was useless. The animals simply climbed up to the top of the screen and barked the seedlings at that height, rather than ground level. The drain pipe is great because you can come back years later and easily remove it buy slitting it lengthwise with a razor knife. I do recycle the pipes from year to year for new trees. I simply run a length of wire around the slit pipe and tighten it to close the kerf.

I also have problems with mole tunneling underground and eating the trees from the bottum up. I made 1' diameter pots out of 1/2" hardware cloth (they can get through chicken wire). I dig the holes first, drop in the wire pots, then plant the trees inside the pot. I curl the top edge of the pots over the lower edge of the drain pipe to totally encapsulate the new seedlings. Then, a cylinder of chicken wire around the top of the seedlings to keep the deer off. Only trees totally armored this way survive on my property.
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 62
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Michael Qulek wrote:I also have problems with mole tunneling underground and eating the trees from the bottum up. I made 1' diameter pots out of 1/2" hardware cloth (they can get through chicken wire). I dig the holes first, drop in the wire pots, then plant the trees inside the pot. I curl the top edge of the pots over the lower edge of the drain pipe to totally encapsulate the new seedlings. Then, a cylinder of chicken wire around the top of the seedlings to keep the deer off. Only trees totally armored this way survive on my property.


I have the same problem with gophers, and also used hardware cloth pots for several trees.
What are you going to do when the trees get bigger and the roots do not fit in the pot anymore? Make holes in the hardware cloth? Remove it completely? Or is it supposed to disintegrate with time?
 
Michael Qulek
Posts: 148
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Wi Tim wrote:What are you going to do when the trees get bigger and the roots do not fit in the pot anymore? Make holes in the hardware cloth? Remove it completely? Or is it supposed to disintegrate with time?

I purposely wired the pots in such a way that they got tighter when pushed inwards, but pop apart when forced outwards. I'm hoping that as the trees grow, the new root growth will simply push the pots apart over time.

Some of my trees have been in the ground for 6 years now and don't show any signs of it being a problem yet. It could be a race though between tree growth and metal breakdown. It's really a mute point though, because the gophers and ground squirrels are so bad at my location, that NOTHING survives without hardware cloth!
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 62
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Michael Qulek wrote: I purposely wired the pots in such a way that they got tighter when pushed inwards, but pop apart when forced outwards. I'm hoping that as the trees grow, the new root growth will simply push the pots apart over time.

Some of my trees have been in the ground for 6 years now and don't show any signs of it being a problem yet. It could be a race though between tree growth and metal breakdown. It's really a mute point though, because the gophers and ground squirrels are so bad at my location, that NOTHING survives without hardware cloth!


I don't quite understand how the pots can fall apart when they are in ground, with the dirt holding them.

I was thinking about making bigger pots, but they would need bigger holes and more hardware cloth...

 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
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bee chicken forest garden
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Two words... Plant Skydd.

It is OMRI rated. You can apply as a granular around the base of trees or spray as a liquid. It stinks, and does wonders against rabbits, voles, deer, elk, etc.

We trialed it last year on our trees, and I am very satisfied. We just completed a similar tree belt install with the varieties you reference... 1238 trees in total. Along with Plant Skydd, we are also installing 12" tree trunk tubes around the base to insure good protection through the winter.

Any questions, give Richard a buzz... let him know I told you to call him, he will treat you right!


Richard Getzkow
Commercial Applications
richard@treeworld.com

TREE WORLD Plant Care Products, Inc.

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Tel: 604-885-3535 Fax: 604-885-3522
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