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chicky

We have four young apple trees (this is their second year).  One had about 10 apples forming on it til two days ago.  Now they have all disappeared !  We are plagued by deer, but the trees are fenced off - and there seems to be no other signs of deer damage (normally they would remove a few leaves for good measure).  Any ideas what else could have taken them ?  We have squirrels, mice, wood pigeons who could all be responsible, but I would have expected them to wait until they were a bit larger and riper.

yakram

Saw a squirrel eating an apple last evening which it had picked from the adjoining neighbour's tree.  They like them just big enough to carry in their mouth.

Squirrels most likely.

BobTheGardener

My money is on squirrels, too.  This thread has reminded me to pick my hazlenuts early this year - last year the squirrels took the lot in one day.  The only ones I got to eat were those I found buried in pots and borders!  They steal enough from the bird feeders over the cold months for me not to feel guilty about them going hungry.

The Doctor

I hate grey squirrels! the only way i like to observe them is through cross-hairs.

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chicky

Many thanks for the replies - seems like squirrels are likely to be the culprits.

Any ideas how to stop it next year ?  I have never heard of people not being able to grow apples because they have squirrels - most of us have at least a couple in the garden.

sotongeoff

Other than building a cage or some other barrier-there is little you can do-it is something you have to live with I'm afraid

Bookertoo

This is why my eating apples are on the wall as espaliers in a fruit cage - the b******y squirrels would have the lot otherwise, plus anything else we try and grow, and all the bird seed and food - oh how I wish there was a good answer to them, and also the flying rats some people call pigeons.

Three years ago we went away for a weekend. When I returned my dwarf macintosh apple tree was stripped of over 50 apples ripe'n ready. No leaf damage. No deer tracks. No apples on the ground. And no apples taken from an adjacent macoun apple tree which was not quite as ready as the macs. Now I too am cursed with squirrels but in my experience, they are not very neat and would have left some half eaten apples near the tree as they have with my elberta peaches. It has been a mystery all these years for me and I would welcome any other suggestions. Terrible apple crop this year maybe due to the unseasonably early spring we had here in New England. I possibly didn't get the insect spray going early enough. Thanks, Jag3

It was me. No squirrels are the likely culprits. I have seen them scurrying off with apples, .....and my gooseberries....-and my peaches
Bookertoo

Having a nsty and suspicious mind, and  a  feeling that where there are no signs of evidence of squirrles etc, my mind springs to people?

I'm no Sherlock Holmes but I live on a cul-de-sac with one neighbor who is definately not a suspect. The puzzling fact is the lack of tree damage unless it was a professional picker but I did check the soil surrounding the tree for any kind of tracks and there were none.

Sue - we had the same problem, lovely apples on our minature trees one day, the following day, 1 missing, then 2 and so on.  Top suspects; next doors 12 year old boy, our dog or a midnight thief.  We looked for weeks to try and catch the culprit.

Then one sunday I came back from my morning cycle and there they were 3 squirrels sat in the middle of the lawn having an apple tea party.  Each with their own apple!

They ran (or squirreled) away I followed where they went at the end of the garden.. and I also found a pile of our missing shoes and dog toys 

OK. Squirrels it is but 50+?

I think bookertoo may be right. 50 apples? Away for the weekend? Somebody knew you were away and pinched your apples

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We have had exactly the same problem with our cordon/espalier apples, for the first time since we moved here 4 yrs ago.  Every eater has gone and we have only 3 cookers left out of an abundant crop.  I thought at first birds must be pecking them as some showed signs of being attacked by something, then I found some in the road and under the oak trees 60 yards away, quite large cookers, not quite ripe for picking, half eaten.  I have come to the conclusion that it must be squirrels, as they are still disappearing after I made an attempt at netting them.  Something is managing to get underneath. I put some netting round the one remaining eater and tucked it in but though the net bag is still there the apple has gone.  We had plenty of squirrels round our orchard in our previous house but the windfalls were never even touched.   Is this something to do with the awful summer we have had or was there a lack of acorns/nuts for them to bury last year.  I did rake up a lot of acorns in the autumn to avoid seedlings germinating; perhaps I should have left them.  We are in Bucks - where are you,?  Next year, I am going to net them and try to make a better job of it and also consider setting one of those cage-type traps and drown any that I catch in the water butt.

Boule, yes squirrels are a damn nuisance and , officially, a pest. It is illegal to catch and release elsewhere so they should be destroyed humanely. But for pity's sake, try not to tell the world how you would dispose of them. One chap a few months ago was prosecuted for doing what you advocate. You are supposed to release the beast into a sack then club it on the head, officially. So be more careful or you will attract a passionate reaction from some posters here.

Thanks Paul.  I didn't know that was a criminal offence.  I couldn't bring myself to club it to death and how do you know where it's head is if it's in a sack.  Doesn't sound very humane to me.  In the unlikely event I catch one, I'll take it to the vet then.  Or perhaps I'll just chop down the apple trees and dig up the strawberries and anything else they take a fancy to.  I'd love to know why we've managed to harvest good crops in previous years, however, without any of them disappearing.

chicky

Thank Boule - you have given me some hope that this won't happen every year.  We are in Surrey, in a very wooded area - so squirrels abound.  However, they have never worried us up til now - other than pinching the nuts from the bird feeder !

I have a vague recollection of reading somwhere that pepper spray can act as a deterent to squirrels eating the bird nuts, could this idea be expanded to fruiting trees and bushes? Having just planted several fruit trees this year I'm getting very concerned by what I've just read above.....we are a grey squirrel heaven round here and they might just bring all their friends along too.