blueberry bushes getting eaten?

tspitzer(z6 ny)April 29, 2009


I just planted 2 new blueberry bushes a week or so ago. They seem to be growing well except that just today I noticed some branches broken off that appear to be chewed. What would likely be eating them? what's best to do about it?


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glenn_russell(6b RI)

My first guess would be Deer. Deer like to munch on mine unless I spray them with deer spray. Do you have deer around? -Glenn

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 3:45PM
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Rabbits eat them too. The best protection is a cage made of chicken wire around the bush until it gets big enough that the rabbits can't do that much damage. Liquid Fence also works if you are good about respraying it after a rain.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 3:56PM
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tspitzer(z6 ny)

rabbits are probably a better guess - its pretty suburban. How big do they need to be to decide that the rabbits cant' do much damage? Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 5:56PM
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I'd say like 2 feet off the ground would be high enough to stop rabbits, but we don't have a rabbit problem around here. We have herds and herds of deer that pass through our back yard on a regular basis, so that's all I have to worry about.

My corn is one of their favorite snacks. I find that the only way I can get them to stop is to feed them some left over table scraps (they really like potato peels!)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 12:32AM
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If the branches are shredded, rather than neatly clipped, I'd suspect deer even in NYC! Rabbits usually make nice neat incisions. Deer grab and pull and leave messy ends. One of my friends lives near the center of the little nearby city and has three deer that wander around his neighborhood. But then this is Missouri, where the Conservation Department still brags about their success in returning the whitetail to our state.

My blueberries are inside an area fenced with 2x4 welded wire that excludes both the deer and most adult rabbits. Baby rabbits can still get in, so I plan to use chicken wire along the base of the existing fence. Gotta love nature!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 1:07PM
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The size when you decide your blueberry is safe is pretty much up to you and the rabbit. About 2 feet tall and 4 or 5 branches is a good size but you really just want it big enough that even if a rabbit does make an attempt that the damage will be fairly minimal and you will see it before the rabbit destroys the bush. If your rabbit really likes blueberries then you'll have to wait longer, and if you rabbit has other food supplies then you only need to wait a short time.

I should add that I misjudged the timing on mine last fall and didn't cage my bushes over the winter and I see this spring that the rabbits broke off several branches. So even if they seem safe this fall you might want to cage them over the winter to keep them safe.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:04PM
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We had considerable damage to three of our blueberry shrubs over this past winter, from rabbits. They left bunny poop on the snow, and of course, rabbit tracks, so I know who the culprit was. It is possible to spray the shrubs with fungicide in the fall, and this is supposed to make the branches taste bitter and unpalatable. I might try it this year, and see how it works.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:27PM
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Rabbits! I ended up with a 2 foot high fence around all the bushes. I'd come out of the house in the morning (into a fenced backyard so definitely no deer) and there would be branches broken off my blueberry plants. Half the time, the rabbit would still be at the bushes as I came to the edge of the deck and look down.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 3:40PM
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With regard to the size of the blueberry bush, we have a lowbush variety that escaped the rabbit this winter. It was buried in a snowdrift for most of the winter. It is located near the gas meter, and where we keep the garbage cans. I have to shovel out that spot, and I kept the lowbush blueberry buried 'till March.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:18PM
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My blueberries are within a steel fence/netting combo with more netting over the top. No deer, rabbits or birds can get in. Yet I'm still seeing clusters of unripe blueberries broken off on the ground or disappearing overnight.

Any clues-- bug? voles?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 12:27PM
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Hrana, could be rodents. I've observed a chipmunk stealing my low hanging blueberries on multiple occasions.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 2:25PM
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A rabbit has munched on several of my blue berry bushes right down to the stems. All of the buds are gone. How long until these bushes will become productive again? 1, 2 3 years or longer?

Thanks for your help,


    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 2:41PM
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