Winter 2011 in Minnesota, one of the snowiest we've had to deal with in history, was definitely one that brought way more snow that I thought we'd have to deal with at the nursery!
It's now the beginning of April, the snow has begun to melt and the damage incurred over the winter can now be seen along the stem or branches where rabbits were nibbling. With all the snow, this year rabbits and other vermin were able to reach to a new height of plant tissue which they then devoured.
Never in a million years did I expect to have the extent of the rabbit damage that we have. All of my eight Honeycrisp apples that I'm training to grow on our espalier now look like corn on the cob remnants. Or should I say, "was training" because obviously they were killed by the near complete removal of bark from a majority of the plant by rabbits or other pests. And really, "corn on the cob" is best stated as "apple on the cob."
The good news is that most of the other plants in the display area of the nursery were protected with fencing and/or tree tubes so will spring to life in a few weeks as the temperatures and daylight hours continue to increase.
Any shoulda/woulda/couldas? Yes, yes and another yes! Had I known we were going to be getting ten feet of snow- ok, maybe only two or so- I would have wrapped all these apple trees to protect them from the ravages of rabbit teeth! I would have wrapped every square inch of these delicate little trees that I've been so diligently training for the past 2 growing seasons so they wouldn't all be lost in one season by a chunky little rabbit.
For information on critter (aka. vermin) damage click here
What will happen with these 8 Honeycrisp apple trees? Depending on the extent of the damage- assuming only the scion was damaged- I will begin retraining a new stem and branches for our espalier.
As more snow melts with the rising temperatures, I will get a chance to peruse the rest of my fruit tree plantings and see what other damages this hellish winter brought to them. Stay tuned!