Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tree Tubes Don't Replace Sound Planting Practices

Tree tubes are simply a tool for increasing the odds of success and decreasing the long term cost, labor and frustration of tree planting and establishment.

Tree tubes are not meant to replace good planting practices.

You still need to analyze your site (soil, moisture, climate) and understand which trees will grow best there.  Tree tubes can't overcome a bad match between tree species and site - they can't magically make black walnut grow well on a low fertility sandy site.

You still need to do adequate site preparation.

You still need to take good care of the planting stock from the time you receive it until you plant it - i.e. you can't leave the boxes with seedlings in the back of the pick up in the hot sun; even tree tubes can't grow seedlings whose roots have dried and died.

You still need to plant the seedlings carefully and properly - proper depth of the root collar, no J-roots.

And most of all, you still need to do aggressive weed control.  Even tree tubes can't help oak seedlings grow faster than kudzu, Johnson grass or multiflora rose.

Whew.  Yes, it's a lot of work.  And you're probably asking: If I'm going to spend all that time and money already, why should I spend even more on tree tubes?

Two reasons:

1) Tree tubes make it faster and easier to apply good planting/establishment practices.  Ever try to find a 12" American chestnut seedling in a field of waist high grass and brush?  Tree tubes make it easy to locate your seedlings.  Ever accidentally spray one of your seedlings with RoundUp or run one over with a mower?  Tree tubes protect your seedlings from the very weed control practices that will help them thrive.

2) Without tree tubes you can do all of that work and still end up with nothing to show for it.  Deer can wipe out a planting in a matter of a few days.  Rabbits and voles can gnaw off seedlings.  Periodic drought can stress newly planted seedlings to the point of mortality before they have time to get their roots into a stable moisture supply.

No, tree tubes don't replace sound planting practices.  Tree tubes make it easier (and in some cases make it possible) to apply sound practices.  But most of all tree tubes help ensure that if you follow these sound principles, all your hard word won't go to waste and you'll end up with flourishing, fast-growing trees well on their way to meeting your management objectives.

Thanks for reading, and please visit to learn more about our products and our company.

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