Posted: 05/09/2012 at 19:25
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.