Date of this Version
The pine vole (Microtus pinetorum) damages apple trees in western North Carolina, sometimes spectacularly. The current research monitors populations in orchards for several years to compare damage in different management practices. Recommendations for orchard management to reduce damage are devised and used to illustrate the process of application of basic knowledge. Populations of voles were monitored by 3 simple methods. Data on reproduction were obtained. Data on home range and mortality were found in the literature. In two counties, the orchards generally had grass in the alleys and sometimes a growth of weeds under the tree canopy. In two other counties (less hilly) the orchards were much cleaner. Numbers of voles and amount of damage were much higher in the less clean orchards. A management program should include mowing 5 times a year, clearing vegetation from under the tree, removing prunings, restricting distribution of fertilizer and, after harvesting, inspecting and cleaning especially vulnerable parts of the orchard.