Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Orchard fence

After the last posting on my blog I received several requests for more information on our orchard fencing. Seems we weren't the only ones sharing more fruit than we want to with our wild neighbors . 

Initially we thought the main problem for our young fruit trees would be browsing deer and in the fall, rutting bucks. Both can create havoc on immature trees by stripping  the leaves and gouging the bark. To combat the deer we installed a seven foot high fence using flexible plastic deer fencing attached to 2” plastic conduit that we slid over metal t-posts pounded in the ground. (I’ll add some resources for materials at the end of this post.) This fence worked well during the years that the trees were growing but not producing fruit. As soon as we started getting fruit we had a new bandit to contend with.

Our cherry trees were the first to start producing fruit and it didn’t take the raccoons long to notice the ripening cherries. They would either climb up the fence or tear a hole in it to gain access. Once inside the fence, the raccoons would climb up the branches eating the cherries and breaking the branches as they went. It has taken us several years of pruning to return our first cherry tree, Bali, to a pleasing and productive condition. 

Last year our apple trees finally started producing fruit and the raccoons quickly took notice of that with the same results – broken branches and missing fruit. After several repairs to holes in the fence Don put up an electric fence wire at raccoon nose height. We were awakened that night by a loud squeak when wet raccoon nose contacted electric fence. As far as we know, we have not had a bear try to get to the fruit but just to be on the safe side, Don added another electric fence at bear nose height.

Confident that we now had the critters at bay we looked forward to enjoying some cherries and apples. But it was not to be. The robins quickly discovered the bright red cherries and polished off nearly all of them. Then in late September when the apples were just about ready to harvest a Stellar Jay discovered the bounty and pecked a hole in nearly every single apple. 

Over last winter Don cruised the internet looking for solutions to the bird thieves. He found some excellent commercial bird netting and ordered enough for three trees. Two weeks ago, just as the cherries were starting to “blush” we draped and secured the nets. When the cherry  crop has been harvested we’ll move the nets to the apple trees.

So far, so good. This morning we harvested our first batch of cherries and will enjoy them for dessert tonight. 

Plastic deer fence – when we first built our seven foot tall fence there weren’t many products available and we found the fencing on a cat fence website: http://purrfectfence.com/ . It is more common these days and you can probably find something similar at your local hardware store or at the next link.

Electric fencing – the absolute best source for all electric fencing needs is Premier Fencing: http://www.premier1supplies.com/ . They have everything to protect gardens, orchards or even keep cattle and horses where you want them.

Bird netting – check out American Netting: 

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