What to do if fruit seedlings have bitten mice or hares? Part 2
How and when to save damaged plants?
How quickly measures are taken to protect trees from frost and drying out most often determine the chances of success. As soon as the wounds are noticed, it is necessary to wrap all the nibbled trunks and branches with a film and protect it with agro fiber or other warming materials, so that frost damage will not be added to the bark damage. As early as possible in the spring, as soon as the snow melts and before the kidneys spill and growth begins, you need to immediately begin the basic methods of struggle.
All measures for plants affected by rodents are aimed at compensating for damage and protecting plants – healing of bark and cambium wounds. And there are not so many options due to the nature of the damage.
The best methods for healing nibbled seedlings include:
- medical dressings;
- “Transplant” of the cortex;
- vaccination “bridge”;
- cardinal cropping.
Bridge grafting and cardinal trimming are used for cambium damage and ring nibbling, and the first two methods for minor damage.
Treatment dressings are best for small wounds.
This is a kind of artificial “defense” until the growth of a new bark, which is left on the tree until the wounds heal. Creating a medical dressing for fruit trees consists of only four procedures:
- treatment of wounds with growth stimulants and fungicides (systemic drugs, a decoction of linden bark (200 g per 1 liter of water), copper sulfate solution of 3% concentration, etc.);
- full coverage of the damaged surface, areas without bark and moves with garden varieties, wound healing pastes or professional putties for trees; they have protective, disinfecting and healing properties and create a reliable coating that does not crack;
- tying trunks and branches with paper, garden bandage, gauze or natural cotton (linen) fabric; the material should have good breathable properties and the prospect of decomposing over time;
- a protective coating of tissue dressings with a film (to protect wounds from water and bacteria) or a second layer of “putty”.
Instead of garden plaster and putty, you can use the usual clay mash. The ideal proportion is 4 parts of manure for 6 parts of clay, mixed to a thick pasty consistency. But pure clay is also suitable, which is applied in a layer up to 3 cm thick under and above the fabric.
Treatment dressings are left until next year. When using clay chatters, it is washed off.
Healing a healthy bark on a bare, nibbled trunk is a complex and not always justified way. You can only take the root of your own tree bark, taken from healthy branches. The size of the “patch” should exceed the size of the damage by 4-5 cm.
The bark is applied to a stripped, flattened area of exposed tissue, wrapped with electrical tape. When protecting the tree from droughts and regular feeding by the end of the season, the bark can take root in a new place. But this method greatly affects the growth and endurance of plants and it is more often used on decorative rather than fruit seedlings.
Restoring tree nutrition due to scions allows overtime to obtain new “nutrition channels” and compensate for cambium damage.
For vaccination, annual shoots, shoots, healthy branches with a diameter of about 0.5 to 1 cm (both from damaged and from other trees) are used. Cuttings are cut with a length equal to the length of the wound on the trunk with an addition of 10 cm. For plants with thin trunks (up to 3 cm), 2-3 branches are used, for trees with powerful trunks – from 5 cuttings.
After stripping the edges of the wound and treatment with fungicides (for example, a one percent solution of copper sulfate), vaccination is performed above and below the wound. In the T-shaped incisions insert the edges of the scion that are cut at an acute angle, reliably fixing the cuttings in any way possible. The usual gardening treatment and additional reinforcement with a film help to speed up the engraftment.
Such a vaccination allows you to create a kind of bridges – conductors connecting the areas with intact cambium bypassing the annular wound, new channels of plant nutrition. Over the years, the shoots grow together and form a kind of thickened knot on the trunk.
On trees older than 5 years with a strong and healthy root system, the option of pruning for reverse growth allows you to save plants even with severe damage. Usually, this option is used on apple trees.
Before the buds begin to spill, the trees are cut down over the lowest bud, immediately treating the stump with garden varieties to stop the growth. The development of new shoots from strong roots and sleeping buds allows the plant to recover around the old stump.