did voles chew my pecan tree off underground?

cousinfloydFebruary 10, 2013

I planted an already good-sized pecan tree in October 2011 that seemed to grow well this past year, but I just found it leaning over at about 45 degrees. It was still green beneath the bark so I potted it up, hoping it save it, but it basically only had 6 or 8 inches of roughly 1-1/2" diameter root with just a few small roots coming off nearer the surface. Just a couple inches up from where the main root had been detached from the rest of the root system it looked like it had been gnawed on all the way around the root such that the root diameter there was measurably smaller. Is this vole damage?

Other questions relating to this:

1. I planted this tree from a large pot so a lot of loose soil went in the planting hole. Does loose soil/potting soil/amended soil make vole problems worse? I mostly have pretty heavy clay soil, so I'm wondering if planting bare root trees in un-amended soil would help minimize these problems.

2. Can I put some kind of underground fence around the roots to keep these animals out? In other words, can I put some kind of small mesh material around the planting hole or root ball? What exactly should I use if there are any options like this?

3. Any other pointers on voles? I also have problems in the garden.

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lucky_p

E,
I've had voles eat off direct-seeded pecan seedlings in nursery rows; plants as large as 2-3" diameter at ground level. They pull right up out of the ground when you tug on them.
Can't offer any recommendations on precluding them, other than close mowing so that they don't have quite as easy a time of moving about undetected by predators - though I'm not at all convinced that they don't also utilize mole burrows to access some plants/roots.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:18AM
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lucky_p

E,
I've had voles eat off direct-seeded pecan seedlings in nursery rows; plants as large as 2-3" diameter at ground level. They pull right up out of the ground when you tug on them.
Can't offer any recommendations on precluding them, other than close mowing so that they don't have quite as easy a time of moving about undetected by predators - though I'm not at all convinced that they don't also utilize mole burrows to access some plants/roots.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:19AM
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alan haigh

Pine voles are capable of doing that and are often quite a challenge to control, requiring fall baiting as they supposedly spend most seasons well underground and well protected.

They commonly damage and/or kill apple trees which wobble after having their roots girdled and eaten.

They once did the same thing to one of my Chestnut trees but left the tap (anchor) root undamaged so the tree survived and eventually thrived- it never got wobbly.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:26AM
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greenorchardmom(Ga Mts 7)

Pecans have a monster taproot sounds like vole damage
best of luck hope tree survives
Mouse traps with peanut butter
under a big rock topped bucket over hole
have helped me with the evil wee scourge voles
harvestman is fall baiting a poison or trap? please recommend best method
MUST take them out before they reproduce this spring

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:20PM
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alan haigh

In the past I baited traps with nuts and covered multiple traps with large cement mixing trays that I moved around my nursery through Nov. into Dec. , but this year a skunk kept taking the bait so I got tamper resistant poison bait stations, but the skunk still took poison out of the stations somehow so I had to trap and kill the skunk even though the poison would probably have done the job (bait is intentionally slow acting so anecdote can treat accidental poisoning). The pine voles will come up for the bait or poison if timed right, from my experience.

012 was a tough year... for me and all the wildlife searching for any available food.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:39PM
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greenorchardmom(Ga Mts 7)

ok well I will just stick with my method till I stop catching them
but thanks if I ever get brave enough to try your way wish me luck with the skunk

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:42PM
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alan haigh

I probably should have mentioned that pine voles are a distinct species, separate from meadow voles who are responsible for trees girdled just above the ground.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:14PM
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cousinfloyd

Anyone have any thoughts on the (vole fence( in the link below? Would something like that work? Would voles just chew through it? Would it cause problems for tree roots after a while?

Here is a link that might be useful: vole fence

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:19PM
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insteng

I use regular chicken wire to protect my trees. By the time the roots get big enough to be bothered by the wire the wire is rusted enough it just breaks apart. My neighbor told me about usng it when he was having trouble with them with his blueberries. Though now I don't have much problems with them since my barn cat loves to hunt them and feed on them.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:32PM
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alan haigh

Voles can easily squeeze through 1" spacing. Even a chipmunk can. You'd need to make baskets with rat wire which doesn't rot quickly.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:19PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I've had meadow voles kill several trees (just this winter)... Around here its snow cover that aids them in attacking my trees. They move around freely under a good layer of snow. To me, the larger trees are never bothered/harmed...its the younger trees (quarter diameter? or less) that seem to be the target. They even attack conifers... The best thing i can think to do is trap the heck out of them. They are dumb when it comes to traps and i've killed probably 100 of them the past few years. Just peanut butter and those easy set traps are required. I also use hardware cloth, but that is more for the rabbits (another menace).

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:37PM
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