Deer can be a nuisance in the orchard. They eat tender young shoots, and bucks rub their antlers on trunks and branches. Too much of this kind of mauling may even kill small, young saplings.
However, because deer can jump to tremendous heights, excluding them from an orchard is not easy, even with a fence.
Here are some options for deterring the deer:
- Watchdog. A dog is probably one of the most effective deer deterrents out there. For sanitary reasons, it is best not to keep the dog in the orchard, but even his proximity in a nearby yard is sufficient to make deer uneasy.
- Hunting. Likewise, hunting activity encourages deer to leave the area. Obviously, this solution is more effective for a large commercial orchard than a small home orchard, particularly in a residential area!
- Fencing. Fencing is a key ingredient to keeping deer out of the orchard, but it has to be the right kind of fencing. A five-strand hi-tensile electric fence is an effective deterrent. If you decide to opt for woven wire fencing, you will either need a single 7- to 8-foot-tall fence or two 4-foot fences spaced about 3 feet apart. A single 6-foot-tall solid fence will also work, as deer are reluctant to jump into enclosures that they can’t see well.
- Repellent sprays. This solution is not foolproof, and some sprays work better than others (putrescent egg solids appear to work fairly well). The key is to follow the instructions to the letter and to reapply the spray regularly, especially in wet weather.
- Flashing lights. Commercial deer repellents using flashing red LED lights are available. They are somewhat limited in their effectiveness because deer become acclimated to them far too easily. However, if you are diligent about moving the lights around regularly, they appear to work better than nothing.
- Aluminum pie pans. Hang up disposable pie pans around the perimeter of the orchard and scattered around the trees. While deer will become accustomed to these with time, the sporadic flashing and motion will still prevent them from coming too close.