For the last few days I’ve been busy painting fruit trees before the cold weather arrives. I bought 18 cans of flat white latex spray paint, a sizable investment. My fingers got sore from all the spraying. Most of the trees in the orchard got a coat of paint from the ground up at least 2 ft on the trunk, the average snow depth.
Painting the trunks is supposed to deter the ravages of rodents who crawl through the snow and gnaw on the trees for sustenance during the winter. Last winter we had a glut of rodents and they killed several adult trees by chewing the bark off the roots, and girdled a bunch more. This past spring I made bridge grafts over the worse rodent attacks to try and save the trees. During the summer many of the grafts seemed to take hold. They are full and robust. The grafts that failed are shriveled. The tree below has several healthy grafts.
To protect my work and, hopefully, the trees, I gave them all a good coat of paint. Rodents are rumored to not chew on trunks covered with paint. White paint is used because it reflects the winter sunlight, preventing the build-up of excess heat that can damage the bark. After all this money and effort, my fingers are crossed that the paint does its job. If not, we may need to say goodbye to our apple orchard. The majority of the original trees have died over the years, many killed by rodents. I hope we can save the hundred or so remaining trees.