New Property, questions on apples, plums and hazelnuts


Buck Fawn
First post but have been lurking for years. Looking to improve a new 40 acre hunting property in central WI, Adams County (Zone 4/5). Soil is very sandy, "Wisconsin Central Sand". Property is located on the very crest of the hill. Several glacial kettles. There is good ag in the area and moderate deer density.

Property mix-
60% mature hard woods consisting of primary Black Oak
30% is pine, mostly white. Much of this is mature. There is a few acres that are younger w/ decent bedding but those area's won't be great in a few more years at the lower limbs are starting to drop.
5% Red Cedar and grass
5% open grass

Long term 10-12 acres of TSI / logging will take place in 2027 and again in 2037 as the red oaks and pines are ready for harvest. Forester recommended clear cutting 1-2 acre patches as that works best for oak regeneration vs select cut. Short term we are in need of improved bedding and some food. We are not interested in food plots, have done that in the past and it's alot of work. Plus I don't want to complete with the near by ag fields. So the focus is on habitat improvement.

Last spring we planted in the open grass land;
12 wild apple trees from North 4O in 5' tubes. These are doing well.
25 chestnut in 5' tubes. At least 50% die off. I think the soil is too dry.
12 American plum in 5' tubes. Planted in semi shade/edge. Seems to be doing well.
50 white pines. These are doing well.

This coming spring the current plan is to plant:
12 crab apples, a mix of translucent and Whitney from a local nursery.
25 American Plum
100 Hazelnut
200 White Spruce

I have several questions as I prep for next spring. Goal is to continue converting open grass land to bedding.

Apples & Plums in tubes
1. Do I need to be concerned about mice getting into the wild apples this winter? Should I add aluminum screen around the tube or will the tube be sufficient protection so long as it's in the ground a bit?

2. I'm planning to replace the dead Chestnuts with Hazelnuts. Anyone in the area have feedback in Hazelnuts that they can share?
3. The Hazelnuts are $1/piece from the state tree sale so I might try some w/o protection. Is anyone successful w/o protection in areas w/ good ag? No bear in the area.
4. Is this more hassle and cost (having to protect them) vs planting white spruce? Seems like many on here don't think the deer get to them and we have a ton of squirrels. It's probably not too late to change my order to spruce and perhaps bump the plums to 50 as these will at least sucker off and spread.

Protection Fencing vs tubes vs screen -
5. Is there a reason to go to fences instead of tubes or screen? Again, we don't have bear.

Sorry for the novel, this helps to get some thoughts on paper! Any feedback on is appreciated.
I'm a big fan of tubes and have been using them for over 20 years. I think they are great for oaks, but if I use them for apples, I double them so the diameter is bigger and it gives them more air movement. Mice will get in there, so even with tubes, I'll put screen around my apples. Also, I have only been using tubes around apples temporarily until I can get fencing around them.
Wrap aluminum screen directly around the trunk itself and staple the screen to hold it in place. Mice will climb with the tube and girdle the tree if there is no screen to keep them away from the trunk. I quit using tubes for that reason and now only use aluminum screen around the trunks with a cage around the entire tree to prevent the deer from browsing or rubbing on the young tree.
Hazelnuts are browsed by deer, but I've successfully planted them in Rusk County Wisconsin without any protection. They would likely grow faster if you could cage them to prevent browsing, but they can survive either way unless you have extremely high deer numbers with very little alternate browse available.
I've got 5 hazelnut near my garden, away from deer. They just produced nuts for the second year, which was year 5 I believe. At the same time I planted 20 on the edge of my property, near my food plot, without protection. There are 4 left and they're barely a foot tall.

Competition from grass, drought, and minor browsing have done them in. If you want them to be productive I'm pretty sure you'll have to take care of them for the first couple of years at least.

They were $1 seedlings from the Columbia county tree sale in Portage.
Id the grasses in your field. You may want to do a one time reseeding to a grass you more prefer.

I suspect you'll have similar trouble with hazelnuts as with chestnuts. Never really used either myself though. If you do put in hazelnuts, consider some significant mulching.

Making cover, clear cut those pines and leave a handful of mature pine for reseeding and maybe treestands.

You could do the same with oaks too. Atleast look in the oaks and see what you can remove competition wise. Can't down the tree in the forest, girdle it and spray some diesel on the girdle marks, or tordon rtu.

The sooner you log, the sooner the woods will become more deer bedding and browsing firendly. 5-7 years is the sweet spot in northern NY.

Local nursieries don't necesarily sell local trees. You'd probably do better ordering from deer specific places. Sandy soil, B118 does well in. some don't like them, my stuff is new so can't tell for sure. Antonovka and dolgo rootstock I hear is good for sandy soil. The last 2 rootstocks have significantly sized root systems that will go deeper to find water.

I personally think foodplots can be less work, and more of a sure bet. IF you mow trails or shooting lane, put some no-till stuff while you mow. Get a 12v spreader for the front of the tracotr while you mow.

Personally prefer cages over tubes. See alot of failed tubes versus cages here in NY. Between soil and eater conservation plantings, homeowners, and habitat restoration from construction.

White spruces are close to not needing caging. At my home, ones by the house do OK. The more the deer and rabbits care comfortable with the spot, the more they get browsed. May not kill a tree, but will severely stunt growth. Talking a 3 year old tree 4ft tall vs one that struggles a foot.

The less you water, the more you need to mulch.

Expect to be watering these new trees a few times during a dry spell the 1st year, or expect alot of loss. IF next year was much like last up there.

Out of everything you'd like to do, the best effort is to make a phone call to the logger.
Thanks for alll the replies. Lots of good information!
While reading about oak trees, my impression is black oaks are very valuable.
One thing alot forget to talk about is an area for you. Consider putting a few spruce trees around a 1/2 acre corner. Somewhere you can put up a camper, or even just park the car before a hunt.

Some folks don't like going into a property at all, except to hunt or do work towards it.

A friend of mine has some hunting land about your size. He hinged cut an area a few years after a good logging. He put in meandering trais with-in it. Pretty much only goes in to mow once a year and hunt. Has a stand or two in it. But, he can also stalk hunt in there too. Making an early plan for trails is important too. As the spot matures, it'll just be more work to do.

I sort have that at camp. My usual go-to stand has a trail I cut in so I can hunt my way back to camp. It doubles as a great snowshoe hare hunting spot too. Not the most secluded plan, but along the trail is a few metal gongs for a summer woods walk shooting range. I do blackpowder competitions, so its good practice for me.

Also, you say no plots now. But, I would do a maintenance mow on some of the fields. If you do want to plot in 5 years, you wont need a forestry mower to handle tons of brush. A every 3 or 4 year mow, or just mow sections every few years. If done towards labor day-ish, it can double as a food plot of sort. The deer will come in for fresh grass. I'd ID what grasses you have growing, mowing at certain times can effect them long term vs if they're just in vegetative stage. Like late may.
Wrap aluminum screen directly around the trunk itself and staple the screen to hold it in place. Mice will climb with the tube and girdle the tree if there is no screen to keep them away from the trunk. I quit using tubes for that reason and now only use aluminum screen around the trunks with a cage around the entire tree to prevent the deer from browsing or rubbing on the young tree.
This. ^ ^ ^ ^

We did tubes some years 20+ ago on our apple trees and the mice / voles loved them as winter "hotels." They built nests inside the tubes and in the spring, the bark was all chewed off up to the top of the tubes and we lost dozens of apple & crab trees. We've been doing aluminum window screen around the trunks - loosely - stapled shut with regular staples, leaving room for several years' worth of trunk expansion. Screen should go as high as your typical snow depth, so mice won't walk on top of deep snow and chew your trees to death. 12" tall screens + 2 ft. or more of snow = chewed trees. Screen bottom should be buried in the ground a couple inches to avoid mice / voles digging & tunneling. We surround our fruit trees with a 3 ft. dia. piece of landscape fabric, and cover it with 3" of crushed limestone chips (fines). The fabric helps to keep weeds down, and the stone chips make life miserable for mice and voles wanting to dig & tunnel. 5 ft. tall concrete mesh cage of about 4 ft. dia. keeps deer off the trees.

Hope this helps.
I would consider caging and tubing the hazelnuts. I have mentioned before but I think hazelnuts are my favorite wildlife tree - they provide food and just about ideal cover. I have been planting more hazelnuts than anything else. Most have been American hazelnuts from MDC as bareroot seedlings. Many of the others have been hybrids (euro x american) that I have grown as either commercial cultivar seedlings or as young trees. The hybrids have bigger nuts and typically drop later into middle or late October. Most of the American's from MDC seem to drop before October. I can't really speak to central WI as most of my experience with growing them is in Northern MO. The wild American hazelnuts I find throughout MN all typically drop by the middle of September. The wild American hazelnuts we have growing in MO don't drop until early October. I am growing some of the later dropping varieties out now to see if it is a regional or biotype effect for which ones drop later.

I say to use cages and tubes for a few different reasons. I think the tubes work fine fore many hazelnuts. Because they are so prone to suckering, I think cages will establish an area a little faster and can probably get above the browse line in two years or so. The tubes are cheaper and can work for hazelnuts, but I have found that the suckering is a little less. Hazelnuts in tree tubes grow more vertical and get kind of spindly. Tubes and cages spread the odds and teach you what works best on your property.
Bagged a 10pt with the muzzleloader Friday so had an opportunity to start habitat improvement work.

Released a few black walnut that I didn’t realize don’t play nicely with apple trees planted this spring. Left one hinged.

Released several aspen trees. 75-100 footers. Amature chainsaw user, should have watched more you tube but managed not to kill myself so I’ll call it a success. Man those things splinter. Found a great thread here detailing best practices for aspen so that was super helpful. Stump cut most and griddled a few that I didn’t feel comfortable with. Looks forward to all those new shoots. Will look for another patch to release this winter.

Cut an area about it 1/4 ac of white pine that was starting to lose lower branches and hinged black cherry to get sunlight hitting the floor for bedding. Will put some spruce here next year.

For those recommending mulch, what are you using? For the apples planted in spring I weed matted and wood chipped. Think about renting a chipper to make a big pile. I didn’t give the plum or chestnuts the same treatment.

Will try both tubes and fence for hazelnuts. Is there prefer diameter for hazelnuts?

Eventually I’ll post a map. Thanks again.


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Nice buck.
Congrats on the buck. If that's a hinged black walnut next to your young apples, I'd kill it and get it out of there and hope for the best. I'm pretty sure I've been losing apples to walnut roots.
Did some more chainsaw work. Cleared a bunch of buckthorn and treated the stumps.

Can anyone I’d this tree? Several growing in the lowlands kettles. Only 10-12’ tall.


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