Protecting new trees


Active Member
So I am in the process of cleaning up the land I purchased two years ago. I have a basic plan for the land but I only have so much time and instead of making a huge mess and then cleaning it up, I take small steps and do a little each year. My goal is to make a "U" food plot with a safe zone inside the U. The parallel sides of the U are current food plots that are doing well, been working on the curved end. But my question is more about what I am finding. The area inside the U is thick nasty 25' tall 40' in diameter white pine trees (~6 acres) the kind like you have 5 trunks coming out of one large stump. This a great winter bedding area. But inside that area I am finding young oak trees as well as some apple trees. These young trees range from 4 feet to 10 feet and seem to be doing OK but they aren't getting the sun light they need.

The area inside the U is about 6 acres and from what I have found in the last two years 6 apples trees, and 11 oaks and finding more every time I crawl my way thru

So my question is what to do?

Abandon the U and just clean out all of the white pines?
Cage the smaller trees and hope for the best
Or just leave it alone as a safe zone and do nothing?


You listed three different options and any one of them should be an ok option but I wouldn't abandon the U. Often deciduous trees growing in pines will eventually outgrow the pines, although in this case the pines seem to dwarf the other trees. Apple trees are worth trying to enhance, and since you do a little at a time anyway I think I'd consider girdling some of the pine trees and let them die right where they stand to make some openings for the apple trees, and maybe some of the oak trees. If you try to take out the pine trees you have a lot of time and expense and a lot of damage to the very trees you're trying to help. The trees sound like they might be bigger than the stage needing caging, though if they look like they have deer browsing damage that may be necessary. It sounds like a great spot to have.
My first question is are you finding these other oaks and apples on other areas of the property? If you are then these trees are not so valuable to you, if you are NOT, then they become very valuable to you. What other areas for winter cover do you have? You have options but what the rest of the property offers you would be what guides me and what I would do. If you have other oaks and apples and little for winter cover, then the pines stay. If you have lots of pines in other areas but limited oak and apples then the pines are going to go. As for the "U" shape of the plot - that's a matter of sunlight availability and access and the need for it and it's impact on hunting access and the like.

Look at what you have and what is in excess and what is in limited supply and try to balance those if possible.
Menn and Jbird thanks for the replies

I am finding small apple trees it seems like every time I clear a new area. The oaks aren't as easy to spot. I will find most of the apple trees in the spring while they are in blossom, easier to spot. But I would say on the 47 acres their are 3 mature apple trees and 11 young trees. The area of the U is an over grown pasture that has been untouched for 40+ years. The entire old pasture is about 15 acres, then the other 32 is made of a nice ridge line that slopes down hill and is all big woods with a good mixture of oaks, hemlock, but mostly maple and poplar. I never really considered the importance of the "access" part of the deal. Now that you mention it that might be more important that the added food. Thanks for the suggestions and raising an awareness to the importance of access. I think going forward I will just protect the few trees I have already cleared and leave the rest untouched.

Greatly appreciated

Rather than build a large U to connect the two plots, you could just put in a path that connects the two plots, plant clover on that path, and consider hunting the path as I would think the deer would use it extensively, especially if the rest of the area is as thick as you say. All depends on access points, exit points, and prevailing winds. Would also provide you a quick way to move equipment between the two plots when you are planting.