Protecting your investment from the predations of deer and other pests is an important consideration in the design and overall cost of your orchard. There are several different options for fencing and deer deterence.
- Milorganite or other olfactory deterrents: Here at Vintage VA Apples, we hang small cloth bags filled with a commercial fertilizer called Milorganite from our newly planted trees. These generally last for a season, and are a quick and inexpensive way to put up at least a minimum of defense.
- Hard fencing: this is the most effective, foolproof, and expensive protection for your orchard. Options include fencing each tree individually, or fencing the entire orchard block. The University of New Hampshire on hard wire fencing: "Woven wire fencing is an excellent option where deer densities are high and the likelihood for damage is great. An 8-foot-high, vertical fence is usually constructed from two 4-foot sections of 6 x 12 inch wire mesh, joined with hog rings. Two or more strands of barbed wire, spaced 10 inches apart, are added to the top of this structure extending the overall height to 10 feet or more. This fence provides an effective barrier to deer, especially when routinely maintained and kept free of vegetation. It is expensive; including labor, can cost as much as $4.00 per linear foot."
- Electric fencing: quicker to install and somewhat less expensive, this option does require maintenance of weeds under the fence, and baiting the fence periodically in order to train deer to avoid it. Click here for a discussion of electric fencing from the Minnesota DNR.
- Orchard Dogs: Certain dog breeds or individuals with a propensity for territoriality and chasing larger mammals can be employed as orchard guardians.