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what to plant, more white cedar, apple, or dogwood ?

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
I really enjoy these photos of young white cedars. You just dont see any like that where I hunt in N MN. I have found one little patch along the road otherwise they are snacks. I am hoping by the end of 2022 that I have 51 of them caged on my land, up from 1 in 2020.



I like the idea of some burr oak gamble, apples and other shrubs in there. In a few years they might not ever leave that spot. And I would really think planting that white cedar area really increased the value of your property.


Good luck with yours! The white cedar in these photos are actually a lot bigger than they look in the photos. Many of them are 15' to almost 20' tall, although the majority are in the 10 to 12 foot height range. But yeah, they are still young considering the lifespan of white cedar, and how large they can eventually get at 50, 75, or 100 years old. Yeah, our farm would be a hunters dream and the value has certainly increased a lot the last 25 years with all the habitat improvements we made, but the land value doesn't really get us excited like all the other benefits we receive from this beautiful piece of God's creation. This land is priceless and Lord willing, it will never leave the family.
 

J B

A good 3 year old buck
Bornagain- Awesome habitat project! I don’t think you can go wrong with any of your options at this point. I’d probably just let it naturally fill in at this point for diversity and some open areas. Deer like open, grassy, south facing areas about the time they shed their antlers. Good info on the apples as well. Our experience mirrors yours pretty well. Liberty is our workhorse also. Although, this year they seemed to drop a touch earlier than normal. A lot of our later dropping apples are just starting to produce. Keep up the good work!
 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
Bornagain- Awesome habitat project! I don’t think you can go wrong with any of your options at this point. I’d probably just let it naturally fill in at this point for diversity and some open areas. Deer like open, grassy, south facing areas about the time they shed their antlers. Good info on the apples as well. Our experience mirrors yours pretty well. Liberty is our workhorse also. Although, this year they seemed to drop a touch earlier than normal. A lot of our later dropping apples are just starting to produce. Keep up the good work!

Thanks JB. I was out today and saw some Liberty still hanging now. Enteriprise have quite a few hanging yet too. Northwest greening and galarina are holding lots of apples still. If you or anyone has any different apple varieties that are late dropping and hold them into the winter, please post!

JB, I think you sort of summed up my thoughts pretty good. I was thinking maybe I should just let it be as it is because like you said, a good mix of evergreens, shrubs, and open grassy areas are deer magnets. And over the next 10 to 20 years those white cedars are really going to spread out their branches and fill in a lot of open space. As you said, I've noticed that Mid to late February and March when most of the bucks shed, they really gravitate to south facing slopes with scattered grassy openings. If anything, maybe I'll stick a few white cedars and apple trees in some of the largest openings, but not too many.

I LOVE shed antler hunting probably as much as bowhunting deer (I haven't gun hunted deer in over 25 years) and our farm has been great shed antler hunting with the habitat and food plots, but now with this area in white cedar and dogwoods, and with hundreds of apple trees around the farm, and food plots, and 30 to 40 acres in large white spruce for the heaviest snow conditions, it should be a shed antler paradise. I noticed 25 years ago how deer love this kind of habitat, and that is one of the main reasons I was so determined to fence in 8 acres and create this kind of habitat.
 
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bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
Compare this to the air photo from 5 years ago that I posted earlier. This is a photo taken of the area spoken about in this thread, about 40 years ago in the early 80's when my Grandpa farmed it. This is looking due west. The south facing slope that was fenced in for 12 years is in the lower half of this photo,. The open pasture/cropland in upper half of this photo is mostly 25 year old white spruce now.


fenced area.jpg
 
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BuckSutherland

5 year old buck +
So you started this all 12 years ago? And your first two plantings failed cause they ate them all? What did you use for the initial planting plugs or bare roots?

Wondering about the growth rate in full sun? They really only exist in swampy ground up by me. If yours grow that good on the side hill I should be able to plant them anywhere on my property. Did you do anything to kill the grasses around them? The biggest ones must be from the initial planting.
 

TreeDaddy

5 year old buck +
"white cedars"are actually in the cypress family and won't harbor rust fungus.

......and i learn something new

i love this forum......

bill
 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
So you started this all 12 years ago? And your first two plantings failed cause they ate them all? What did you use for the initial planting plugs or bare roots?

Wondering about the growth rate in full sun? They really only exist in swampy ground up by me. If yours grow that good on the side hill I should be able to plant them anywhere on my property. Did you do anything to kill the grasses around them? The biggest ones must be from the initial planting.


The first white spruce we started planting in the late 1980s so they are a little more than 30 years old. We planted more in the early 90s and a whole lot more in 1998. The white spruce plantings total around 30 acres on the farm, some as small as 1/2 to 1 acre patches, some as large as 15 acres, and others like what you can see in the photos I posted earlier, are in narrow strips.

We planted white cedar on the south facing area of about 8 acres in April of 2006 and we put the fence up in 2008. So most of the white cedar that are alive are 14 going on 15 years old. I'd say that once they reach about 3 feet tall, they grow about 12" per year. Once they reach the 5 to 6 foot height, they really take off. The first few years I never did any weed control, otherwise they would have done a lot better. We lost maybe 1/4 or more of the white cedars in 2012 during one of the worst droughts around here in the last century. We lost more due to rabbits chewing on the trunks before I started weed control. In 2013 or 2014, I started to kill weeds around each white cedar with glylphosate and a backpack sprayer, and I started mowing the grass and weeds inside the entire enclosure 2 times per summer. This year was the first year I did not mow inside the enclosure since I started to mow. And I haven't sprayed the weeds around the white cedars for probably the past 4 years or so. We had planted white cedars in this area in 2000 and 2003 I believe and most or all of them were browsed to death. A few of them might have survived, but not many. If any did survive from 2000 or 2003, before we got the fence up, they would have been browsed nearly to the ground level and somehow survived 3 or 6 years of being browsed to the ground each winter before we got the fence up. In our experience, white cedar grow well on upland sites such as this south facing slope. That drought in 2012 was horrible, scorching dry heat, full sun, and no rain for a long time, and I never watered any of them, and I had not started mowing or spraying weeds around them at that time yet in 2012, and probably 3/4 of them survived. They would have been 6 years old that summer.
 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
oh, and we planted all all bare root trees. I've planted some plugs outside the fence in later years and they do quite well considering that I basically ignored them for the first few years of their life. I get so busy with so many habitat and food plot projects that I sometimes ignore certain things since I don't get time for it all. The last couple of winters I've been putting the following deer repellent on the smaller white cedars outside the electric fence and it seems to do a good job of keeping the deer from browsing them. And, the repellent seems to lower the odds of them rubbing them as well if I start to apply it in October.

 

BuckSutherland

5 year old buck +
I did 10 1 gallon pots last year. They were all about 2 feet tall. I planted them in low areas with weed mats, full sun, and cages. They look good.

Next spring one of the local SWCD is selling 2 gallon white cedars that are supposedly 24-36” for $13. I am grabbing 20 of those. They will get the full treatment. I’m planning several on a south facing hill side like you have. I already cut a bunch of the popple down so they have full sun. I have a natural source of water about 100 feet away in case they get a little dry.
 
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Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
We have about 8 acres we planted with white cedar and lots of red osier and silky dogwood, and some apple trees. Deer browse white cedar like crazy during the winter around here. Because we were determined to get a large area of awesome winter habitat with white cedar, we built a 8 strand, electrified 12.5 gauge hi tensile wire fence around this area 12 years ago and left it up to keep the deer out until the white cedar were big enough to survive deer browsing. This is the first winter since we took the fence down, so the deer will likely browse all the foliage up to 6 feet hi by the end of winter. There are some areas withing this 8 acre planting where there aren't many white cedar but mostly just weeds and dogwood. Would you suggest I plant more white cedar or apple trees in those areas, or would it be better to just let those areas be more open and allow the dogwoods to reach their full size intead of getting shaded out by planting more white cedar or apple trees? Of course, I would have to individually fence each white cedar or apple tree now that the electric fence is down, but I would not be opposed to doing that for a couple hundred white cedar or apple trees if I decide to plant more in this area. I have hundreds of other apple trees elsewhere too. We also have many thousands of white spruce nearby and around the farm as you can see in some of these photos. The one photo is taken from a distance and you can see the area I'm talking about with some areas less heavily planted with the white cedars, that's where it's mostly dogwood and/or apple trees. This is south facing too, so it will make for excellent winter habitat.



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Your place looks great and your plan is working!

On your hardwood hillside, lots of mature trees without much understory. I would start to plant black spruce & hemlock in the understory. Hemlock will need to be caged, not sure on the black spruce as I am only on my 2nd year with it.

Between the hardwood hillside & white spruce add lots of shrubs (dogwood, ninebark, chokecherry, etc.) to create transition cover.

If you are up to it, I would double the # of white cedar you have and fill in lots of the gaps. Create blocks of 20-25 so that as they get tall enough, the deer will browse up to about 5'-6' creating a low canopy for snow cover. They are doing well and more is better.

Continue to also fill in with shrubs to create more transition cover.
 

H20fwler

5 year old buck +
Your place looks great! The stuff you have out looks awesome.
Sounds like you have the bases covered pretty well, your apple trees are impressive. Are you to far north for pears?
Here with our dirt the ROD (and about everything else) gets browsed pretty steady even with our low deer density. Highbush cranberry and hazelnut are a real benefit to all kinds of wildlife for us especially turkeys as a shrub, grow really good and don’t to get to tall.
 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
Your place looks great! The stuff you have out looks awesome.
Sounds like you have the bases covered pretty well, your apple trees are impressive. Are you to far north for pears?
Here with our dirt the ROD (and about everything else) gets browsed pretty steady even with our low deer density. Highbush cranberry and hazelnut are a real benefit to all kinds of wildlife for us especially turkeys as a shrub, grow really good and don’t to get to tall.


I actually want to plant some pears, mostly for human consumption, but any we don't eat would be for the deer. What are the best varieties of pears? are there any that hold their fruit into the winter months if they aren't picked?
 

H20fwler

5 year old buck +
Keiffer/Ayers/Moonglow are all good wildlife DR pears. For late season pears Wildlife Group has some really good ones that are late Keiffer variants like Gilmer Christmas/Becton/Gate/Ms Laneene. I have all of those WG varieties 4-5 years in the ground the only that have fruited for me so far are the Gate...they all look and grow like Keiffers just hold later and are very DR.
Moonglow is an earlier dropping pear but it is worth putting one in because they are such good pollinators and deer love them, I don't like eating them at the house because they are so soft and crazy sweet.

 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
Thanks H2O. If anyone has a link to a thread on these forums that discusses late holding pears could you please share the link? what's the latest into fall or winter time that anyone has had pears hanging on the tree? and what varieties? or should I start another thread on this?
 

Bowsnbucks

5 year old buck +
As H20 said - we also have a couple Kieffer's pears. Ours hang into November for sure - maybe later - we have a couple guys that love to eat them, so I don't know HOW LONG they'll hang!!
 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
do pears need to be caged like apple trees, or do deer not browse them as much? Do rabbits and mice girdle them if they aren't protected?
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
do pears need to be caged like apple trees, or do deer not browse them as much? Do rabbits and mice girdle them if they aren't protected?

Treat them the same as apple trees with respect to browsing and rodents girdling them.
 

H20fwler

5 year old buck +
do pears need to be caged like apple trees, or do deer not browse them as much? Do rabbits and mice girdle them if they aren't protected?

I've had Kieffers hang into early to mid Nov, Gate a few weeks longer depends on how hard/early it freezes. I really like Kieffers for eating, firm pear not gritty and just right sweet with a nice crunch to it.
I should have mentioned Olympic/Korean Giant is another great wildlife and eating later dropping huge pear, Seckel is also a very good eating sweet pear to but not quite as DR and an earlier dropper late Sept-early Oct here. For me strong fall wind is a bigger factor than anything on how long they can hang, much heavier than apples.
Yes cage and screen them prune off low branches and suckers after a couple years they won’t need hardly any maintenance are way less "needy" than apple trees.
 

Telemark

5 year old buck +
do pears need to be caged like apple trees, or do deer not browse them as much? Do rabbits and mice girdle them if they aren't protected?

Mine got murdered by deer.
 

bornagain62511

5 year old buck +
I've had Kieffers hang into early to mid Nov, Gate a few weeks longer depends on how hard/early it freezes. I really like Kieffers for eating, firm pear not gritty and just right sweet with a nice crunch to it.
I should have mentioned Olympic/Korean Giant is another great wildlife and eating later dropping huge pear, Seckel is also a very good eating sweet pear to but not quite as DR and an earlier dropper late Sept-early Oct here. For me strong fall wind is a bigger factor than anything on how long they can hang, much heavier than apples.
Yes cage and screen them prune off low branches and suckers after a couple years they won’t need hardly any maintenance are way less "needy" than apple trees.


H2Ofwler, what state are you located, and what part of the state north to south? just wondering for comparison to freeze dates in the fall and dropping times. I've noticed that too, with apples the earlier we get really cold weather down near 0 to 10 degrees, the sooner the apples fall. especially if we get some nights down that cold followed by warmer weather in the 40s and 50s, and then back down around 0 to 10 degrees, and back up towards 40 to 50 degrees. that seems to make them drop earlier.
 
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