What to do if fruit seedlings have bitten mice or hares?
It is no coincidence that protection against rodents from shrubs and trees is considered one of the most important points in preparing the garden for winter. It is very difficult to overcome the consequences of mice and hares enjoying the bark of plants. But damage by rodents and the trunk, and branches, and roots – not always a sentence. If the warning measures did not work or were forgotten, the affected plants can still be saved, although they will have to fight for their health. From a simple garden var to special vaccination methods, there are many options for the rehabilitation of bushes and trees after an invasion of rodents.
Which plants are most likely to suffer from rodents?
The orchard and favorite berry bushes are not the only plants that suffer from the winter activity of rodents. But it is they who most often become the object of attention of mice, hares and other loving ones, feasting on the bark of plants of guests of the garden.
Apricots and apple trees have always been special favorites of rodents, but even simple berries are often threatened in harsh winters. It is believed that hares with their strong paws, which make it possible to reach branches, cause special harm to the orchard. But both mice and rats are no less dangerous. They act more stealthily, under the snow, approaching the roots and base of the trunk, literally gnawing trees and bushes. The activity of all rodents increases especially when other sources of food are depleted – in late winter and early spring.
No matter how thorough the protection of the garden from rodents is, it does not always cope with visitors looking for any available source of food. Permanent inspections and strengthening of shelters may also not be enough.
If rodents have nibbled fruit trees and other plants, the first thing to do is not to panic and not take “extreme” measures. Before disposing of a seedling, it is worthwhile to assess the damage, carefully weigh the chances of success and, if the defeat is not complete, try to save the plant.
Determine the degree of damage and risks
To find the optimal recovery strategy for damaged fruit trees and other seedlings affected by rodents, it is worth determining the degree of damage to the plant. Rodents can:
- partially nibble the bark on the trunk;
- nibble the bark on the trunk around the circumference (ring);
- enjoy skeletal and small twigs;
- harm the roots (most often the damage occurs only in the spring when the trees fall over and are easily pulled out);
- gnaw through the tissue of the root neck.
All types of damage, even small ones, put trees at risk of frostbite, infection, disrupt sap flow and cause drying, not to mention a decrease in resistance and yield.
Two factors affect the chances and timing of plant rescue:
- condition of cambium (has cambium suffered and has the drying process begun?);
- lesion area.
It is worth saving only trees in which at least part of the bark is not nibbled (at least 20% of the bark and roots should remain). The smaller the area of damage, the higher the likelihood that the seedling will survive and recover in years. A serious risk of plant death is more than 50% of the bark or roots are damaged or any ring lesion.