I was reading an amazing story about a Christmas tree farm in Iowa that was wiped out in a few days by hungry deer. An estimated 175 deer stripped 12,000 Christmas trees of their needles, rendering the trees as unsellable. The owners lost an estimated $75,000-$80,000 worth of trees. Unfortunately no insurance coverage is available for such an application. The owners have planted new trees since the decimation. The problem is it takes about five to six years to grow a 6-foot pine or fir. So unfortunately this business will have no income for another 5-6 years. This is devastating for small businesses in the Christmas tree or any plant or tree growing industry.
The Pacovsky family has since erected an 8 foot high deer fence. For the past 46 years since the family have harvested Christmas trees, a fence was never needed. Obviously the deer population has increased so dramatically in certain areas of North America they cause havoc to many small and large businesses involved in plant and tree growing.
So, what was the point that caught my eye in this article? A: Christmas Trees as a food source! I never thought that this beloved member of the Araucaria Columnaris family would fall victim to those pesky deer. I do understand that when the ground is snow covered deer become desperate, but Christmas tree needles as a main food source? I am surprised that a whole farm(s) were wiped out. I have only witnessed gnawed Christmas trees needles; evidence that deer tasted the plant and moved onto a more durable food source.
One solution farmers are trying is to feed the deer before they eat your crop. It would make sense to offer a food source that is easily accessible and more appealing to the deer's palate. Farmers can easily spend a few thousand dollars a year for the feed, but the outcome is far less devastation to the farmers crop. Corn and distillers grains are commonly used as a cheap and appealing feed.
Ultimately high fences are a great solution, but these can be very costly considering the area to be fenced even on small farms. Most farms just don't have a budget of $25,000+ to have fences installed, when you consider other factors a farmer has to deal with. Bad growing seasons along with erratic weather patterns delivering more severe storms are other elements that impact a farmers bottom line.