Apples from Europe – high quality apples


Uninvited guests, i.e. how growers protect trees from animals?

Winter is a time of increased risk of damage to orchard crops caused mainly by small game, i.e. hares and rabbits. At the end of winter and spring, the threat from so-called large game, such as wild boar, moose, roe deer and other deer, increases. How do European fruit growers protect trees from these uninvited guests?

Fencing of crops

Fencing of crops is one of the most durable, but at the same time the most expensive methods of protection against wild animals. The most common tools are typical mechanical barriers (in the form of high fences with the use of wire fencing) and the installation of electric fencing.

For fencing orchards, a net with a height of 1.5 to even 2.5 m is recommended (the higher it is, the more difficult it is for animals to get through) and with a mesh size of 4 x 4 cm, made of galvanized wire with a diameter of 2.5-3 mm. The net is stretched on poles spaced every 3 m, with footings at a depth of up to 80 cm. If the orchard is exposed to damage caused by deer, it is worth installing additional protection in the form of barbed wire over the fence. It is stretched on booms directed outside the orchard. Net protection requires quite careful monitoring (especially before winter and in the case of young plantings), and any noticed burrowing (made not only by wild animals, but also by dogs) requires immediate elimination. Fences installed on freshly ploughed soil, e.g. after replacement of plantings, should also be carefully inspected. Settling soil can cause gaps between the substrate and the net. Hares or roe deer can easily get through such openings, and can cause serious damage in a few days, especially in young plantings.

Electric fencing is a barrier composed of several wires stretched around the orchard and connected to a low-voltage power source. Usually it is enough to stretch 2-3 wires suspended parallel to each other. A fence of this type acts as a deterrent to animals – touching the wire causes an unpleasant electric shock which is harmless to their health at the same time.


In areas with high culture and density of fruit crops, the population of pests such as hares and rabbits is under constant control. In these areas, fencing of crops is not necessary. In young plantings, however, appropriate repellents should be used – i.e. products that repel not only the aforementioned rodents, but also roe deer and other deer. For the procedure to be effective as early as in October or November, it is recommended to spread these products on the trunks and bases of skeletal branches. There is no need to cover entire trees with repellents. Autumn procedures carried out in this way will protect plantings also during the growing season. Lists of products recommended for deterring wild game are available in the national programs for the protection of fruit plants. To deter roe deer and other deer, toilet soaps, which are hung on trees, are also commonly used.

Other methods

In European orchard practice, solutions that affect animals visually (all kinds of reflective, moving elements, bundles of fibres or hemp tow) and acoustically (e.g. noise cannons) are also used.

Deterrents greatly reduce, but do not completely protect trees from damage. The effectiveness of actions can be increased by combining methods with different mechanisms, e.g. mechanical protection with repellents or repellents with biosonic solutions. This increases the effectiveness of the steps taken by fruit growers, especially in periods of increased threat from wild animals.

Supporting animals in winter

In preventing damage caused by uninvited guests in orchards, it is helpful to maintain natural mid-field feeding grounds located outside the areas intended for cultivation. It is also important to create new wildlife food plots, where you can lay out, for example, branches left over from winter pruning of trees (preferably apple trees). Sites arranged in this way will be a valuable source of food for wild animals, and due to the lack of sources of anxiety they will areas more attractive to live than orchards.