Late Season Work in the Home Orchard
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2013
Ill. - Before the ground freezes solid and it becomes too cold for working
outdoors, gardeners with a home orchard should take some measures to ensure
that their fruit trees survive winter in the best possible condition, said a
University of Illinois Extension horticulture specialist.
can do a lot of damage over the winter by feeding on fruit trees if they are
allowed to hide in the grass around the base of the tree, said Richard
recommends removing all grass and weeds directly around the base of the trunk
to clear several inches of open dirt.
remaining vegetation carefully by hand if needed to discourage the mice from
living there over the winter. If left tall and next to the trunk, field mice
will live there all winter eating the inner bark of the trunks and the surface
of roots, which can kill fruit trees," he said.
string trimmer is not recommended because the bark of younger fruit trees is
thinner and easily damaged, he added.
pointed out that mice do not like to cross open frozen ground in order to get
to the fruit tree because they become easy prey for predators. "Field mice are
so small that gardeners cannot effectively fence them out. Field-mice damage
often goes undetected until the snow melts and then it is too late," he said.
damage is also seen during the winter months.
will eat the bark off trunks and any branches within reach, especially young
fruit trees with smooth bark down to the soil line," Hentschel said.
distinct, showing white-colored exposed plant tissue where the rabbit has
chewed away the outer bark. Rabbits feed less on older fruit trees with heavier
bark until the snow piles up or until there is a snowdrift that allows them to
reach the lower branches, he added.
can use a variety of mechanical barrier materials to discourage rabbit
feeding. During the winter months, chicken wire can be used as adult
rabbits will be too big to fit through the openings, Hentschel noted.
of chicken wire should be at least a couple of inches from the trunk and needs
to be secured so the rabbits cannot lean it over to feed. If you do this early
enough and work it into the bare ground you created, it will freeze in place
and you will not need stakes," he said.
to chicken wire are plastic trunk wraps that can be easily used on younger
fruit trees. For larger fruit trees, several layers of newspaper or commercial
tree wraps can be used. Wrapping the trunk also provides protection for
the tree from winter sun scald and possible frost cracks. Feeding deterrents
can also be sprayed on the trunk and lower branches for the winter.
consideration frequently overlooked is soil drainage.
allow water to stand around the base of your fruit trees. For the winter
months, you can fill in soil around the trunk so water and snow will not
collect," Hentschel said. "This is an ideal situation for the development of
disease, which will attack the crown and roots near the trunk itself later.
that allowing free water to crush the bark tissue as it freezes around the
trunk will cause problems as well. "Once spring returns, the soil will need
removing as you prepare for the next growing season," he said.
Source: Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator, Horticulture, firstname.lastname@example.org