Last year rabbits in our area had a very good breeding season. We knew we had to keep an eye out for rabbit damage on our newly and even 2-3 year old trees. Unfortunately we began seeing damage as early as mid December. The easy solution was to thin the number of rabbits in the area or come up with another solution. Although I have fond memories of my maternal Grandfather's rabbit fricassee we decided to find another solution.
Tree pruning is an annual event for all orchards. We thin the trees to allow for larger fruit, more air circulation, thus better disease control, and more return bloom in the following season. Usually we prune and move the branches into the wood line. This year we also made piles of pruned branches along the fence line were the rabbits were coming from nightly. This worked better than we had hoped. They stayed in these brush piles and stripped the branches and more importantly we stopped seeing damage inside the orchard. As long as they do minimal damage in the orchard we can call a truce.