The struggle of gardeners with various pests with the onset of cold weather does not end - it is the turn of field mice. If winged destroyers of fruits and leaves fall asleep in winter, then rodents, on the contrary, become more active, because in their natural habitat (in forests and fields) it becomes cold and hungry. Vole mice approach human habitation in search of food, one of the most delicious "treats" for these animals is the bark of young apple trees. Although the damage to the trunks from mouse teeth is not as critical as the damage caused by larger rodents, it is better to prevent these troubles than to deal with their consequences.
What to do if the bark of apple trees is gnawed by mice will be described in this article. Here you can also find information on how to protect young trees, what methods of rodent control are best to use.
Mice, hares and wild rabbits are capable of completely destroying an orchard. The fact is that stone fruit and seed trees are a favorite delicacy of rodents. By the way, mice damage trees much less than hares and other rodents.
Small teeth of field mice are able to gnaw only the top layer of an apple tree - the bark. Often the cambium remains intact, which allows the tree to quickly regenerate and continue to bear fruit.
Attention! Cambium is a layer of a tree located between the bark and core, and is responsible for feeding and sap flow.
The mice are most active in the gardens in late winter - early spring. It is by this time that the stocks of rodents usually end, and in the fields and in the forests there is absolutely no food left for them.
If there is snow on the site, the mice will damage the part of the trunk that is under the snow. Therefore, the gardener may not immediately notice that the bark of apple trees has been eaten by mice, usually traces of the presence of rodents are found in the spring, when the snow melts. The most important thing in this case is not to waste time and immediately start reanimating the apple tree.
Important! Only a strong, especially annular, gnawing of the bark on apple trees can lead to the death of the tree. In other cases, you can try to save the plant.
Mice gnaw not only the bark and trunks of young apple trees, these animals are able to destroy even the roots of an old tree. If in the spring the apple tree fell to one side, and its trunk easily turns in the ground, it means that most of the roots are damaged - the tree will certainly die, since it does not receive nutrition. Such plants will have to be uprooted - it is impossible to save apple trees with root damage by more than 80%.
How can a tree be saved
If the mice have gnawed the bark of apple trees, the most important thing is not to waste time and start saving the tree immediately. As soon as the snow melts, the gardener should walk around the site and inspect all the fruit plants. Depending on how hard the mice have gnawed the bark of the apple trees, a method of rescuing and treating the tree is chosen.
Apple trees that are not gnawed by mice very hard can be treated with bandages. This will only help if the problem was detected in time, the bark has not yet begun to dry out. The most important thing is that the cambium and the core are not damaged.
Advice! Only those apple trees that have superficial non-annular bark damage can be restored with medical dressings.
There are many ways to treat with bandages. Here are the most common and effective ones:
- The place where the mice gnawed the bark of the apple tree is smeared with a thick layer of Heteroauxin ointment, garden var is applied on top and the trunk is tied with gauze or pure natural cloth. From above, the bandage must be closed with polyethylene so that infection and moisture do not get into the wound.
- You can boil linden decoction. To do this, take a pack of dried linden (200 grams) and fill it with a liter of water. This mixture is boiled under the lid for 30 minutes. The broth must be cooled and filtered through cheesecloth. The wounds inflicted by the teeth of mice are thoroughly impregnated with a pure linden broth. After that, the apple tree trunk is bandaged with a cloth and film, leaving the bandage for the whole summer.
- The Clay Talker is one of the oldest treatments for apple trees after mouse attacks. Six parts of clay should be dissolved in water and mixed with four parts of cow dung. The mass should be thick. Its thick layer (about three centimeters) is applied to the damaged apple tree trunk, then the tree is wrapped with natural fabric. Another layer of clay is applied on top of the fabric and the tree is not left in this form for the entire warm season. You don't need to take off such a bandage for the winter: clay and cloth are easily torn and decomposed, leaving no constrictions on the growing apple tree. Already next spring, a new bark should grow on the trunk.
- If the gardener does not have the ingredients or time to prepare the chatterbox, you can use the ready-made Rannet composition. This special bactericidal putty promotes rapid healing of any wounds on fruit trees. It is applied with a brush to a clean barrel. After drying, the product leaves a strong film that will not crack and allow moisture to pass through.
- The wound on the bark caused by mice after treatment with copper sulfate will quickly heal. A 3% solution is suitable for this. They impregnate the trunk of an apple tree with it, when the product dries up, they wrap the tree with black polyethylene. The polyethylene protects wounds from water and light, and the bandage can be removed by the end of the season.
Attention! If the gardener noticed a trunk eaten by mice even in winter, an urgent need to insulate the tree. To do this, it is wrapped with foil and agrofibre. When it gets warmer, this protection is removed and radical measures are taken.
Inoculation of the wound
In more difficult cases, when the nutrition of the tree is disturbed, a bridge grafting is used. If the mice have eaten not only the bark, but also the cambium, it will be more difficult to save the apple tree, but it is worth trying.
You need to inoculate an apple tree with a bridge like this:
- as soon as the snow melts, the wound caused by the mice is cleaned to clean wood;
- after that, the trunk is treated with a 1% solution of copper sulfate;
- several young shoots of last year are cut from the tree and cut into equal lengths, the length of which should exceed the vertical dimensions of the wound by 5 cm;
- cuttings are cut from both ends at an acute angle;
- in the areas of the bark of the apple tree, located above and below the wound, incisions are made in the form of the letter "T";
- prepared cuttings are inserted into these cuts.
Advice! For a young apple tree, badly damaged by mice, two bridge shoots are enough; for an older tree, you need to take at least five cuttings.
The junction (grafting) is lubricated with garden varnish and rewound with polyethylene.
The essence of this method of reanimating an apple tree after the action of mice is that the shoots will take root on the bark and begin to feed the tree, playing the role of a damaged cambium. Over the years, the bridge shoots will become thicker and eventually turn into a full-fledged trunk for the apple tree.
This method of healing the wounds left by mice is quite complicated - only experienced gardeners can implement it. The method of engraftment of the bark on a bare area is especially effective, when the mice gnaw the trunk in a circle, without leaving a single centimeter of coverage on the tree ring.
To translate the method into reality, you need to find a donor apple tree or cut off the bark from a thick branch near the same tree. The bark for grafting is cut off very carefully using a sharp knife. The size of the patch should be 5 cm larger on each side than the wound left by the mice.
The bark is applied to the gnawed trunk and wrapped with electrical tape. In order for the apple tree to recover, it needs to be watered and fed - to provide full care. With the onset of winter, the electrical tape is removed.
Important! Rarely do apple trees with severely damaged bark recover completely. Trees grow more slowly, the volumes of fruiting are reduced - it often turns out that the mice ate the apple tree in the literal sense.
If the mice have severely damaged the trunk of the apple tree, at least part of the tree can be saved only in a cardinal way - by cutting down the trunk above the lower bud. They use the method even before the start of sap flow: this is very important!
To prevent the stump from sprouting, it is abundantly greased with garden var. If the roots of the apple tree were healthy and strong, dense growth will go from them in the spring. From this growth, the grower can choose a trunk for a new tree.
Attention! Cutting the trunk for reverse growth will only help apple trees that are more than five years old. Young seedlings do not yet have a strong root system; it is impossible to save them after being damaged by mice.
Protecting trees from rodents
It is difficult to reanimate apple trees after their trunks have been devoured by mice, besides, the gardener must understand that after "treatment" the tree will never be as fertile as it used to be.
Therefore, the owner of the orchard should devote all his strength to preventive measures - protecting apple trees from mice and other rodents.
Protecting apple trees from mice primarily consists in cleaning the garden in autumn:
- all branches, grass and other plant debris must be collected and taken out of the site;
- Fallen leaves should be burnt or poured into a compost pit.
Protective measures may include the following:
- Whitewashing of apple tree trunks. The trunk and skeletal branches are coated with garden paint to a height of about 150 cm (it is to this height that hares reach, standing on their hind legs).
- Mice cannot stand the smell of copper sulfate. You can spray the crowns of apple trees and the soil around them with a solution prepared at the rate of 100 grams of vitriol per 10 liters of water. For a young apple tree, two liters of protective agent are enough, for an adult tree for full processing, at least a bucket of solution is needed. Processing is carried out in dry weather, when the leaves completely fall off and are removed from the garden.
- As soon as the frosts begin, you can treat the apple trees with the Bordeaux mixture - the mice do not tolerate it either. A 1% solution will scare off not only mice, it will destroy insects hibernating in the bark and roots of apple trees. The amount of funds should be the same as in the previous paragraph.
- A mixture of naphthalene and fish oil is not the best treat for mice. In a 1: 8 ratio, they connect these two components and coat the lower branches and trunk. Around the apple tree, you can spread a cloth soaked in a naphthalene mixture. After each rain or snowfall, the treatment is repeated!
- Mice and hares don't like Sanlizol either. You can soak sawdust with this tool and scatter them around the trunk of the apple tree. Or you can mix sanlisol with clay and coat the lower part of the tree.
- Apple tree seedlings are protected with spruce branches. The branches are tied to the trunk, directing the needles downward, trying to cover the root collar.
- The elderberry smell is disgusting for mice. Twigs with this berry can be laid out in the garden.
- To prevent mice from making moves in the snow, the snow is regularly trampled. This will allow an ice crust to form and compact the snow mass.
- A more radical way is to fence the apple trees with a chain-link net. The mesh is buried half a meter into the ground, the height of the overhead fence should be at least one and a half meters.
Advice! The mesh of the chain-link should be no more than 10-15 mm. If the diameter of the protective fence is around 70 cm, you don't have to remove the shelter - the apple tree will be able to develop normally.
Mice often gnaw the trunk of an apple tree, exposing the core of the tree, disrupting metabolic processes and nutrition. Infections and moisture can penetrate through the wounds, as a result of which fungal diseases develop - the tree becomes weak, often ill, bears poor fruit, and stops developing.
To protect the apple tree from mice, you need to use fences, non-woven material, ultrasound, baits and products that smell unpleasant to rodents. Already damaged trees can be tried to heal, choosing a method depending on the depth and area of the wound.