I have small trees damage... #171022 - Ask Extension

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I have small trees damage... #171022

Asked March 22, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

I have small trees damaged by mice or rabbits with the bark chewed off . Is there anything I can do now to help them survive ?

Waukesha County Wisconsin

Expert Response

Dear WaukeshaCo. WI,

To answer your question quickly. . . it depends.  How much of the tree received damage?
First, imagine looking at the stem of your tree from above; pretend it is a clock face.  If the damage is limited to a quarter of an hour, say from 3 to six o'clock, the tree should make it.  However if the damage is 1/2 an hour to 3/4 of an hour the tree is in jepoardy of dying.  The issue I am thinking of is how much living tissue is left within the clock face to transmit nutrients up and down the stem.  Some trees can make it with very little tissue left others cannot.
Second, look at the stem from the side.  How far into the stem did the rodent chew?  Sometimes they only chew the bark off.  Sometimes they chew into the supporting wood.  With the supporting wood gone, the tree can break off in a storm.  Pictures can help.
If these trees are fruit trees, I would start over and protect them next fall.  Most fruit trees are grafted, the roots are from one tree and the stem is from another.  The chewing messes with the graft.  If the trees are regular landscape or woods trees, the chewing only kills the top.  The roots are still alive and will sprout a new stem if you can wait.  Think about what I've written, if you need more info write me back with a little more discription.  We can go from there.

Don't know if you are a basketball fan or not, but Wisconsin sure put on a good game against Oregon on Saturday.  Go Badgers!  Blessings. - Andy
Andrew Baril Replied March 24, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

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