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Crab apples and deer
I was wondering if deer like crab apples since they're sour. Do they like them as well as regular apples?
Love them. On my PA property the deer will pass by the apple trees to get to the crabapples on the ground. Deer taste buds are different than ours. Try eating clover sometimes, it tastes like crap, but the deer eat it like candy.
Lots of crab apple trees on the golf course where I live. Deer and geese love 'em.
The term 'crab apple' actually refers only to the size of the fruit, not necessarily the flavor. I usually hear 2 inches as the dividing line. Apples that get less than 2 inches are crab apples, and if the fruit generally gets bigger than 2 inches, it is an apple. Most crab apples tend to be more sour than apples, but there are some in my area that make very sweet crabapples...
If you are looking at planting some crab apples, ask about local disease issues and do some research into different varieties. In my area, you definitely want them to be fireblight resistant. Some ornamental varieties are bred to make lots of flowers but very small fruit. Other varieties are bred to make lots of fruit or slightly larger fruit.
We planted about 60 20", bare root crab apple trees under fabric and tubed them all. I don't recall the variety....but on average....how many years until they will start bearing fruit?
jf, I certainly didnt mean to hijack your thread!
The crab apples I'd like to plant are listed as sweet crab apples. I believe they're a natural/ wild variety.
One of my very favorite early season food sources to hunt. Deer love them.
As I recall the last ones I planted took about 5 years to produce fruit but obviously the age of the stock you buy will dictate this.
The answer in most books is 5-7 years. Since you planted 20" seedlings instead of the 5-7' trees the book is thinking about, it may be more like 7-10 years.
Are they flowering and not setting fruit, or not flowering at all? If you are getting flowers and no fruit, you probably either have a shortage of pollinators, you are getting a late freeze that kills the fruit or you have a variety that needs a companion pollinator plant (different variety that flowers at the same time). Apples start the process for setting next years buds in early to mid summer. Those buds over winter and break next spring. Anything that happens to the tree this year (drought, early fall freezes, spring warmth followed by a late frost, etc) can affect flowering for next year. A frost during or immediately after flowering will get in the way of fruit set.
One of the old Horticulture specialists at the university showed me how to "force" an apple tree into blooming. He would take a straight razor (any thin bladed very sharp knife would do) and he would slice through the cambium all the way around the trunk of the tree. I know it sounds crazy, and it takes balls of steel to do it on a high value ornamental, but it does work. I have never had the guts to do this on a trunk, but I have done it on some branches, and I can see that it did what it is supposed to.
Deer love a fruit called a quince too. It is in the apple family but VERY bitter and nasty tasting to most people.
Glacier, At what time of the year do you do this trunk slice thing? Now? or the fall of the year maybe?
On a side note, I have ringed various trees with a chainsaw trying to kill them. Two ring cuts and they'r dead, but if only one cut is made, they often just repair themselves at the cut and keep on growing!
I like to do it before bud break in the spring. It won't help this year, but you should see the results with next springs blossoms. Personally, I have never had the guts to completely cut around in one spot. I will cut half way around the branch, then move up 6-8 inches and cut the other half. I think it is sometimes called "scoring" the tree. The gerneral idea is that trees under a little stress will flower and fruit more readily. Look at you pine, fir and spruce trees the year after a drought. They will likely be loaded with cones... Apparently, if a tree fears for it's life, it will try to reproduce!
In years past, they used to do that to reseed pine forests. They'd clear cut it and leave a tree every so often that wasn't shaped well for lumber and score it, repopulating the area next year with tons of saplings. The idea is that the tree thinks its going to die and goes out with a bang. At least, that's how it was explained to me.
If done deeply enough, it also kills the tree.
"Try eating clover sometimes, it tastes like crap"
It takes quite a hunger to go that far. What are you doing in that stand Pat? Growing more than clover and crab apples perhaps?
they also love the leaves and branches any young trees need protection..
I've had some long days hunting and eaten a white oak acorn or two. Honestly, not that bad....
yep, I ditto Scotty on the quince too. They make great jelly by the way (crabapples AND quince)
As soon as they are large enough to bloom, they should be able to bear fruit. You shouldn't have to do anything to them. Maybe the second or third year at the most. Late frost can set them back and maybe blast the crab apples, but in 33 years of growing nursery stock, I have never seen the crab apples not fruit due to freezing temps. Try not to grow them to vigorously as that can cause them to grow too vegetatively, and not produce and set many flower buds. Some times stress will start them bloom process. Slash cut is one, but that is pretty radical. Just cut the water and food off if you can. Or spade around them cutting a few roots, just something to make them think they need to stop growing and start making flower buds, but you shouldn't need to do any of this.
A great variety for deer is one called Dolgo. You can buy it cheap as a root stock for grafting, but it makes big sweet crab apples, the size of small plums. Deer love them. It's pretty hardy and good to snack on too.
The deer greatly prefer certain varieties over others in the nursery, and will seek those out and feed on them until there are no leaves left within their reach, before feeding on the others varieties. Sometimes they stand on their hind legs and break branches down to get the leaves, leaving us a mess. I have to keep deer repellent on them when they are young. Their favorite is actually a variety that is sterile and sets no fruit.