Decado
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Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

So we had a ton of snow this year in MN and I didn't even think to dig out around my apple trees so the rabbits got at the lower half of the branches. They were chewed off about halfway and all the buds were chewed off these branches. Do I trim off these branches now? The tree's only 2.5 years old and has barely even grown yet, this would eliminate half of the branches so it has me worried.

JONA878
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

It happened to the young trees in one of our orchards many years ago during a very hard winter Decado.
Afraid you wait until the middle of the year to see if they will break any dormant buds that may be sitting along the branches length.
However if any of the damaged branches show signs of cankers developing then cut them back to the main trunk using a Dutch Cut. this will encourage a new branch to grow in the same place as the one you are removing.

Dutch Cut.
This is a cut were you cut the branch close to the main trunk but leave a triangle shaped stub with the flat part of the cut on the top. The lower part of the stub will then break out a new branch.

Good luck.....and get a wire rabbit guard around those trees.......and leave any prunings on the ground to give them something to chew on while the snow persists.
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tomc
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Was the trunk also girdled by nibblers? If yes that may be a terminal condition.

You may want to make a collar out of hardware cloth.

Nibbled off branches can be replaced by back budding (more or less).
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Decado
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Trunk's fine. What's back budding?

tomc
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Decado wrote:Trunk's fine. What's back budding?
A bonsai term. In order to make a tree fit into a smaller footprint, species are selected based on how well they will grow oppertunistic buds on branches and trunks. Some specie do it better than others, apple is one of those.
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Decado
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Another thing I was wondering, since this is it's 3rd summer will I finally see more than just an inch or 2 of growth?

tomc
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

I'd start the spray regime you can live with. I'd also start a thin layer of compost and an overlayer of bark mulch. Get rid of grass, brush, drops, dead fall under your tree.

A spray regime could include a dormant oil spray, and a pre and or post bloom spray. I would not encourage the neonicatinoid sprays they are too tough on bees. YMMV. There are also pheromone traps.

Malus, prunus and acers have a lot of sugar in their sap. As a result they have the buggy equivalent of an "Eat here" sign on them. Most of those bugs are no big deal. The emphasis should be on most.
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JONA878
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Decado wrote:Another thing I was wondering, since this is it's 3rd summer will I finally see more than just an inch or 2 of growth?
This is a little worrying.
A young tree like yours should be growing much stronger than that ....unless.

1. You have a very poor tree in the first place.
2. You have a tree on a very dwarfing stock.
3. The root stock is far too weak for the type of soil you have it planted in. ( for instance....a root stock nine on a very heavy soil will practically cease to grow)

So providing the tree seems healthy in every other respect, all you can do is give it plenty of feed and water during the season and do not let it over crop.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

Decado
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

JONA878 wrote:
Decado wrote:Another thing I was wondering, since this is it's 3rd summer will I finally see more than just an inch or 2 of growth?
This is a little worrying.
A young tree like yours should be growing much stronger than that ....unless.

1. You have a very poor tree in the first place.
2. You have a tree on a very dwarfing stock.
3. The root stock is far too weak for the type of soil you have it planted in. ( for instance....a root stock nine on a very heavy soil will practically cease to grow)

So providing the tree seems healthy in every other respect, all you can do is give it plenty of feed and water during the season and do not let it over crop.
I know the tree is semi dwarf, I don't know about the root stock number though. The trees seem healthy they just don't like to grow. I planted them in my lawn but made the holes plenty big and I cover it with wood and grass mulch, I give them kelp meal and bone meal a couple times during the growing season. Could the fact that my grass is super invasive be causing problems with the trees?

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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

It would help to remove the grass competition from around the tree for a while Decado.
The main problem though with grass is that it does use a great deal of the water that is available.
Keeping a small area clear will also allow you to give the tree a good mulch around its base which will also keep the soil moist.
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Decado
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

JONA878 wrote:It would help to remove the grass competition from around the tree for a while Decado.
The main problem though with grass is that it does use a great deal of the water that is available.
Keeping a small area clear will also allow you to give the tree a good mulch around its base which will also keep the soil moist.
Not sure what I can do, I pull it and mulch a lot. It's so invasive.

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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Cardboard and mulch. :wink:

(But don't put the cardboard up against the trunk because mice and voles will find that ideal -- hand pull)
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

JONA787 wrote:3. The root stock is far too weak for the type of soil you have it planted in. ( for instance....a root stock nine on a very heavy soil will practically cease to grow)

So providing the tree seems healthy in every other respect, all you can do is give it plenty of feed and water during the season and do not let it over crop.
IMO this is most likely your problem to slow growth.

Spade some bark mulch into soil around your tree
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Decado
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

tomc wrote:
JONA787 wrote:3. The root stock is far too weak for the type of soil you have it planted in. ( for instance....a root stock nine on a very heavy soil will practically cease to grow)

So providing the tree seems healthy in every other respect, all you can do is give it plenty of feed and water during the season and do not let it over crop.
IMO this is most likely your problem to slow growth.

Spade some bark mulch into soil around your tree
Don't I run the risk of hurting the roots?

NatureHillsNursery
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Re: Rabbits Chewed Branches And Buds On Apple Trees

Try to look on the bright side—at least the damage is to some branches (that you can trim off), rather than to the base of the trunk (as many people have). If the tree had been chewed up at the base, then you could possibly lose the tree. Without seeing a photo, I would suggest simply waiting to see how those branches do. You can always trim them off later.

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