Deer and fruit trees

Credit: kkirugi

Q: Hello,

I have fruit trees, including apple and plum trees. The deer visit, eating only the leaves of each tree, but not the fruit itself.

How can I stop this from happening?

Thank you.

Unfortunately, as long as the deer can reach the foliage, they will be eating the leaves of your fruit trees. What we have always done at my house is to fence the fruit trees – at least until they are sturdy and high enough to be beyond the danger of being destroyed by foragers.

That said, there is still the risk that a young buck will strip the bark off the trunks of large and sturdy trees by rubbing them with his antlers, so there are no guarantees.

Usually, we protect our trees by using rebar as posts and enclosing each tree with sturdy deer fencing, so that the deer cannot access even the lowest branches. Keep it strong and assume your deer will do everything they can to get past your fencing, especially when they see low-lying fruit – including jumping on fencing and smashing it down until it collapses, if that is possible.

Young trees are particularly vulnerable to deer, which have been known to snap the trunk right into two (in my orchard anyway) in order to get at the top branches. Still, with some tenacity on your part, you can definitely enjoy a beautiful orchard in deer country.