During fall deer are preparing for “rut” or mating season. This means that the bucks become more active in searching for a mate and may become aggressive toward other bucks. A buck’s antlers help fend off would be girlfriend thieves. Like any man in search of a woman, a buck needs to keep those antlers looking fine by rubbing all the felt off and marking his territory, and that is where your newly planted, deer damaged, trees come in.
Fall is the best to plant new trees because while the rest of the tree is dormant the roots can establish in the warm soil. Wellnitz Tree Care typically plants 1-3 in caliper trees and it just so happens, those are the same size trees that deer like to rub with their antlers. This is bad for your tree because it damages the cambium layer which gives rise to the xylem and phloem. The xylem and phloem are responsible for transporting water, nutrients, and energy from roots to leaves and vise-versa. When these areas become damaged, the tree can no longer transport energy and will die.
The good news is deer damage is easily avoidable with a few preventative measures. The easiest is fencing off the area directly around the tree. If you are a gardener with large tomato cages, store them around your tree for the winter. Keep the cage a foot or more away from the trunk and steak it in place. Plastic sleeves also work around trees, just remember to remove it before spring. Choose light colored plastic to keep the tree from breaking dormancy due to heat.
Commercial deer repellents claim to keep deer away, but depending on weather and product you may need to reapply frequently. Chemical sprays are typically more successful for deer browsing than rubbing. Other tactics include hanging things from the tree to scare the deer away but usually, deer adapt and come back. In our experience, exclusion is the best way to avoid deer damage.
If you have tree problems deer-related or not contact us. We are your tree solution.
310 Congress Street, Emporia, KS 66801 • 5709 SW 21st St., Suite 108, Topeka, KS 66604