Lucky find


Well-Known Member
The attached pictures are apples from trees on the property we recently purchased in NW North Carolina. When I walked the property in July I thought all the apples were crabs. There are crabs in the mix but plenty of heirloom trees with fruit ranging from small to big.

The only apples that appear to be untouched are very small crabs that drop green. The deer are beating paths to all the other trees. There are probably a few hundred apple trees in all along the creek.

I have trail cam pictures of deer eating apples in August and some trees are still loaded! Just wish they weren't so close to the road, it's a poachers dream.


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I'm thinking about removing the trees that produce the small green apples to open up the canopy for the more preferable species. Any chance those small crabs will provide a viable food source on the ground a few months from now when all the other apples are gone?

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I personally have no idea. Simply monitor them as your season progresses. mark the trees that are producing the small green fruit so you know which ones to target later if needed. You may also find that you produce more apples than the deer will eat as well....again all part of why monitoring is a good idea. If your concerned about poaching - you may need to look into some sort of a screen. Lots of folks would be very excited to find a couple producing apples.....looks like you found the mother load! Also try to monitor which ones drop before others and the like. That way if you need to do some thinning you can still try to provide as long a duration as possible.
Monitoring will be challenging over the next 5 years. Trail cameras and occasional visits to the property; 1-3 times each year.

Trail cameras certainly help. I have one over a pile of the small crabs that aren't currently being targeted, hopefully I'll get to see if the deer come back to them later.

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Won't thinning out some trees make shooting lanes for the road hunters? Those crabapples should be a great draw later on. I understand about cutting good trees to things out, I cut oak trees all the time to thin them. But I'd be very careful about cutting mature apple trees unless I'd be very sure I didn't want them anymore, even if they are crabs, which can be some of the best for deer. I'd sooner consider pruning every tree that's there to open things up.
Some of the trees produce tiny green apples that aren't being touched by the deer, at least not yet. I'll give them a season or two and see if that changes.

The shooting lanes for poachers is a good point. I've been trying to find a shade tolerant screen, any ideas?

Maybe I could hinge some of the apples the deer don't eat.

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In my experience once the larger apples fall the deer will readily check the area and scratch up the crabs as well. Even after they are all gone the deer are conditioned to keep checking the area.
IMHO Since you recently purchased the area I would hold off on cutting any of them out.
Yeah, that's probably the best advice. The deer seem to like the creek just the way it is. I have pictures of ~5 different bucks from the same camera location. Just picked a random tree to hang it on back in July.

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Here there are some apple trees that produce fruit that may be seemingly completely ignored some years; but get a year with a low apple crop and those not good enough ones suddenly enjoy high demand.