CONTROLLING DEER DAMAGE IN A NEWLY-PLANTED OLIVE ORCHARD

Background:  The olive orchard was planted in a 40 acre area within several hundred acres of woods. The surrounding area is inhabited by various wildlife including deer and rabbits. It is an area of  pathways traveled daily by deer.  A road borders a small portion of the orchard, and 3 houses are along another small portion; the rest is directly adjacent to acres of woods with several ponds. The orchard was planted with very young 1foot to 2 feet seedlings, consisting of one branch. In mid August 2014, 605 trees per acre were planted in 23.5 acres, along rows 12feet apart.
Problem:  Not long after planting, the deer began nipping tree tops and newly-forming branches. At the first sign of damage from the deer, a deer deterrent product available locally was applied to a few rows of trees. That product had no affect; the deer grazing continued.A new and inexperienced farmer, I was deeply concerned about losing the investment of time, energy and money. And I was at a loss about the best approach to solve the problem. After all, my orchard was encroaching on an area the deer had existed on for many years. Several suggestions were offered by other farmers, such as installing an electric fence, getting a license to kill the deer in the orchard, plant something the deer won’t harm, spray the orchard with perfume, let dogs run through the orchard all the time, walk up and down the rows every day to leave a human scent, try various products that will work temporarily until the next rain, and so on. None of these suggestions appeared to be a good solution for my particular situation.Growers who tried some of those recommendations ended up losing a significant amount of trees.
The Solution:  Based on a recommendation from another olive grower successful in deterring the deer, I decided to try Plantskydd® Repellent. To date, there have been three applications.
First Application:  The first application was applied November 6 and 7, 2014. A hand sprayer connected to a 15 gallon tank, on a Kawasaki Mule was used to apply the mixture. Eleven mixes were made, using 4.4 pounds of Plantskydd® Repellent powder for each mix of 15 gallons of water, along with approximately two ounces of Elimino and one ounce of Vestis. The Mule was driven quickly through each row, with one person driving and another person spraying each tree.  Approximately 165 gallons of water and 48.4 pounds of   powder were used for the 23.5 acres of trees, roughly equating to two pounds of Plantskydd® Repellent per acre. That first winter was unusually cold mixed with very warm days and several freezes. It was critical to avoid using any nitrogen, as any winter growth is a risk to the olive trees. This concern caused the initial delay in the decision to use Plantskydd®. As it turned out, there was no tree loss the first year attributable to Plantskydd®. The natural food sources for the deer were limited as a result of the unusual freezes. Deer continued to roam through the olive orchard, yet they no longer bothered the olive trees.
March 11, 2015–An example of the many trails of tracks throughout the orchard during the first winter, yet there was in significant damage to the trees.June 25, 2015 –Deer continued roaming the orchard, grazing on select weeds, uninterested in the olive trees.
October 14, 2015 –Deer tracks along abed; no deer damage to the trees.
Second Application  The second application was applied November 23 through December 13, 2015. Roughly four acres were sprayed
November 23; the remaining acres were sprayed December 13-16. There were fewer trees to spray due to some tree loss. This time a hand sprayer connected to a 25 gallon tank was used with the mule. Six mixes were made, using 6.6 pounds of Plantskydd® Repellent powder for each mix of 25 gallons of water, along with approximately two ounces of Elimino. The Mule was driven quickly through each row. For the first 4 acres sprayed
November 23, one person drove while also spraying each tree. For the remainder of the orchard, one person drove while another person hand sprayed each tree.  About 150gallons of water and 39.6 pounds of powder were used for the approximately 20 acres of trees, roughly equating to two pounds of Plantskydd®Repellent per acre.
December 5, 2015 –Some of the many deer tracks in the orchard; no deer damage to the trees.  Plantskydd® isn’t harmful to the orchard dog, Roscoe.
5 February 4, 2016 –Trees are not bothered by the deer during the winter months.April 13, 2016 –Deer leave the trees alone as they start to grow and bud. May 22, 2016 –Deer continue to walk through the orchard, leaving the trees alone through the spring.
6 June 26, 2016 –Tracks continue throughout the orchard with no deer damage to the trees.August 1, 2016 –New growth continues with no significant deer damage to the orchard.
September 26, 2016 –The orchard is adjacent to woods inhabited by wild life.
September 26, 2016 –An area often visited by deer and rabbits without harming the trees.
Full Report & Pictures: Plantskydd in Olive Orchard