Preventing winter damage to fruit plants
I have posted this on the "Fruit and Orchard" forum, but many of you have more experience with winter issues:
Every winter I get at least some winter damage on my half high blueberries and florocane raspberries. It appears to be mostly on that years growth and the canes or branches that had the most growth. The damage appears to be desiccation of the last 6 to 12 inches of this new growth.
1) Do these tips try to wick moisture up as they start to dry out, even though it is below freezing but the sun is shining on them? If they do, would it be better to trim them back as soon as the ground freezes to stop this wicking action?
2) Is it best to keep plants fairly dry until just before the ground freezes, then soak the ground. Thinking that the early dry ground will help with the hardening off process, and then getting moisture to prevent desiccation? How much lead time before freeze-up would a plant need?
3) Several deer managed to break through my deer fence. Because many of the trees and bushes are young the defoliation was bad. Some branch tips were eaten, but mostly just leaves. The %age of defoliation was as follows:
Evan Cherry 90%
Northstar " 30%
Carmine Jewel 50%
2 kinds of plums 90%
5 Asst. apples 50%
My fear is this will push a flush of late grow growth and winter will kill the new growth and maybe even the plants. The ground is fairly dry right now, but they are all heavily mulched with wood chips. How would you proceed to minimize winter damage?