NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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November 7, 2011 Horticulture Column


I think “ick” is the word I used this morning.  I saw some white stuff laying across the deck and just reminded me of the months to come.  I was watching football on Sunday and watching the leaves blow across the yard the trees shaking from the wind “which by the way seemed stronger than the weatherman suggested” Deb and I decided it seemed like a fire place day.  I soon realized that I am going to need to make a trip to the forest for a bigger supply as it was wonderful watching football with the fire going and leaving behind the snapping of the bark burning and smell.  This reminds me, if you have a wood burning stove make sure to clean you chimney.  I have had one chimney fire when we were still living in Edmore.  SCARES the bajebies out of you.




It’s important to protect your trees from damage due to sunscald as well as from rabbits and voles. Young thinly barked trees such as maples, lindens, mountain ash, flowering crabs and honey-locust as well as fruit trees are susceptible to sunscald damage. Sunscald is caused by above freezing temperatures on sunny days followed by freezing temperatures at night. This rapid change in temperature kills the cells in the bark causing areas to die and peel off during the next growing season. Trees can be protected from sunscald by wrapping the trunk with any material which shades the trunk or reflects the sun and thus prevents excessive warming.

            After the heavy damage done by rabbits and voles in past winters, homeowners need to be concerned about protecting their outdoor plants. When heavy snow covers their food supply, rabbits will look elsewhere for food. Early snowfall seems to encourage an invasion of yards by voles. Many times this means that trees and shrubs are in danger.

            Fruit trees are usually the first trees attacked by rabbits. They seem to like the taste of the tree bark. As a precaution, determine a method of protecting your fruit trees from the rabbits. If a fruit tree is eaten off below the graft, the fruiting variety is lost and the resulting growth has little or no value for fruit production.

            Rabbit and vole damage can be prevented by reducing the number of pests, protecting individual trees with mechanical barriers. Where only a few trees are involved they can be protected by fencing each tree or by wrapping with burlap, aluminum foil or heavy waterproof tree wrap. A cylinder of ½ inch mesh fencing works well for protecting small trees from rabbits. A finer mesh fencing or a solid retainer is needed to keep the voles away from trees and shrubs.

            Repellents are solutions painted or sprayed on trees. They contain one or more chemicals which are distasteful to animals. Many commercial repellents can be found on the market.


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