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All of my ripe peaches vanished overnight!

Posted by Brian Farley 
All of my ripe peaches vanished overnight!
August 05, 2017 01:33PM
Hello,
Looking to get some insight as to what may have taken every piece of ripe fruit off my tree. It is a 5 year old tree and about 16 feet tall. I last checked for ripeness about 2 days ago, went out there this morning, and there is not 1 peach left, not even up at the top. There is no evidence, other that some pits, but those may have been from some drops I didn't get around to picking up yet. The only thing I can come up with is squirrels, but this seems like to big a job for them. Any ideas? Thanks!
Re: All of my ripe peaches vanished overnight!
August 05, 2017 05:50PM
I can't speak for you because I do not know were you are. But if it were here in Zone 5b, Maritime Nova Scotia, Canada, I can confidently say this was clearly the work of the masked bandits: racoons. They are very capable of cleaning out an entire tree in one night - the night before the day you planned to harvest them yourself. They did it to me.
Of more significance, however, is how to avoid it next year: all that is needed is a low electric fence around the trees. I use 2 ft. lengths of plastic conduit driven 6 or 8 inches into the ground and strung with 2 strands of electric fence wire. (I was talking to somebody 2 days ago who uses only a single strand about 6" off the ground.) Racoons cannot jump, but they are adept climbers, and their little hands are excellent conductors of electricity. One note of caution: they are also damn smart, and, once they catch on, will time their attack by listening to the "thunk" of the fencer, clambering over immediately afterwards, before the next jolt. (I have my fencer set up in the closed greenhouse, where they cannot hear it.)

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: All of my ripe peaches vanished overnight!
August 07, 2017 07:51AM
Thanks David!
My wife and I thought that this might be the case. I've been re-reading Michael's Holistic Orchard this summer and just glanced over the pest section, commenting to myself that I haven't yet encountered serious issues. This is the first year I have a decent crop of peaches (I have 7 peach trees for family and friends) due to peach leaf curl. I've been so focused on diseases and bugs, didn't really consider that all this hard work would get stolen at peak ripeness! Another lesson learned! Needless to say, I am setting out to protect the trees with your suggestion. I especially like the electrical conduit fence post idea, seems like a real money saver. How far apart did you place your posts? Thanks again for your advice!

Backyard Grower
Newfane NY Zone 6b
Re: All of my ripe peaches vanished overnight!
August 07, 2017 10:50AM
The spacing of the stakes is largely determined by geography and convenience. In my case, I have a roughly 24 ft X 8 ft area to fence. I have stakes at the 4 corners plus one stake half-way along the long side, ie. 12 ft. spacing. This was chosen simply because, at 24 ft., the wire sagged too much and shorted out. At 12 ft. it can readily be kept clear of the ground.

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
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