Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top 10 Trees People Protect With Tree Tubes

After 21 years of marketing tree tubes, I thought I’d try my hand at creating a list of the top ten tree species on which people choose to use tree tubes.

There are two different ways to determine this: total number of tree tubes used on a certain type of tree, or the percentage of trees of a certain type that planters choose to tree tube.

My list is a combination of the two, with some representatives from both categories.

1. Sawtooth oak (and ‘Gobbler’ Sawtooth oak)
If you’re planting sawtooth oak (Quercus accutissima) that means you’re planting for wildlife. And if you’re planting for wildlife, that means you have wildlife that likes to eat tree seedlings. You also want to get a fast growing, early-producing tree into production ASAP. No sawtooth oak should ever be planted without a tree tube.

2. Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
One of our highest value hardwoods is also a favorite of deer in many locations.  If you’re planting black walnut you’re most likely planting to leave a legacy of beauty and value to your children and grandchildren. 

Note: Black walnut was particularly susceptible to winter injury in the older, un-vented tree tubes, and so many walnut growers stopped using tree tubes for a while.  Now with the introduction of vented tree tubes this is no longer a problem, and black walnut growers and coming back to tree tubes in droves.

3. Any hybrid oak – any Quercus X with an x in the Latin name!
Hybrid oaks typically grow fast and bear acorns at an early age.  Planted for wildlife, and even for human food, every acorn for a hybrid oak is worth protecting.

4. Crab apple (Malus sp.)
A soft mast favorite of those folks planting to enhance wildlife habitat, you wouldn’t believe how fast it grows in tree tubes – 10″ bare root seedlings emerging from 5′ tree tubes the first year is not unusual!  Significant mast production in year 3 is also a very real possibility with tree tubes and aggressive weed control.

5. Persimmon (Diospyros sp.)
Persimmon in another soft mast wildlife favorite in Southern states.  Every one deserves a  tree tube for optimal growth.

6. Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Like most oaks, bur oak grows a lot faster than you think, and even more so in tree tubes.  Put a bur oak seedling (or direct seeded acorn) in a tree tube and you’ll be amazed.  With the arrival of Emerald Ash Borer in the Midwestern and Plains states bur oak will – and should – fill a bigger role in windbreak and shelterbelt plantings.

(And if you’re planting a windbreak or shelterbelt, by definition you’re in a place where it’s hard to grow trees – you’re in the prairie. Just like your crops and farmstead need the trees you plant to shield them from wind, the trees you plant need treeshelters to shield them from that same wind!)

7. Northern red oak (Quercus rubra)
Northern red oak might be the "most tubed" tree in history, due to its importance as a source of high value hardwood timber and its appeal to deer as a midnight snack.  Foresters don't usually tube every northern red oak - just 30 to 50 per acre to insure a certain minimum stocking level  - so they won't have to go back and start over if (when) deer eat every last red oak.

An underused method is to use tree tubes on northern red oak stump sprouts, and on natural regeneration (especially after they turn scarlet in the and stand out like beacons on the forest floor).

8. Apples, plums and pears planted for wildlife (Malus, Prunus and Pyrus sp.) – especially any fruit tree with a varietal name like Arkansas Black, Chickasaw, Yates, Deer Golden, Methley, Ozark Premier, Dixie Delight, Galloway, etc.)
The varietal name means you paid more for a tree with specific characteristics – fruit flavor, ripening time, etc.  And it means you have high expectations for its performance.  Not using a tree tube is like buying a new Corvette and not doing oil changes!

9. Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii)
Our fastest growing native oak can grow even faster – and start feeding wildlife sooner – with tree tubes!

10. American chestnut (Castanea dentata)
Chestnut Blight.  One Asian fungus, fifty years, and 4.5 billion trees dead.  The majestic American chestnut once towered over the Eastern hardwood forest, until the first half of the 20th Century.  Thanks to the heroic work of groups like the American Chestnut Foundation new, blight-resistant American chestnuts are being planted to restore the “Sequoia of the East” to its rightful place in our forests.  Every single nut and seedling planted is precious, and we can’t lose any of them to deer, drought or competing vegetation.

11. (I know I’m cheating by adding an 11th item) Any California oak
The beautiful native oaks of California are in decline due multiple factors:  Cattle grazing, lack of fire to control competition, drought, and deer.

Tree tubes are playing a critical role in the reestablishment of California’s amazing oaks.

Others receiving votes:  Chinese chestnut, paw paw, baldcypress and black cherry. And anything planted for ecological restoration or wetland mitigation. Or in a windbreak. Or for wildlife habitat. Or for riparian buffers. Or in parks or our landscapes (instead of planting large B&B trees with deformed roots, more and more urban foresters are choosing to plant seedlings with tree tubes to allow the root system to develop naturally without disturbance).

Oh, never mind… it would be easier to do a list of the top 10 trees that shouldn’t have tree tubes.  Because there aren’t any!

1 comment:

  1. I've never used a tree tube to care for my trees, and never will more then likely. Though you make it sound convincing!

    -Carlos Hernandez
    Tree Service Queens