When plastic tree tubes were introduced from the UK and became available in America in 1989, many of the early customers were black walnut growers.
It seemed like a complete “no brainer”: Eastern black walnut produces extremely high value timber, but can suffer from low survival rates due to deer browse and drought stress.
Black walnut growers often paid premium prices for planting stock with known superior genetics; all the more reason to protect those seedlings with tree tubes.
And while only the most unrealistic of these planters ever hoped to live to see these trees grow large enough to harvest, they all hoped to see those trees well established before leaving them as a legacy to their children and grandchildren.
There was only one problem: Growers quickly realized that from Missouri on north black walnut seedlings in the unvented tree tubes sold at that time did not harden off properly for winter. If a tree emerged from the tube by August 1st it would have enough exposure to ambient conditions to harden off for winter. If it didn’t emerge from the tube until after that date, or didn’t emerge from the tube at all the first year, it would suffer die back after the first hard frost. The tree would resprout from close to the ground the following year and would very quickly grow up through the tube. Ultimately the tree would emerge from the tube early enough in the season to harden off properly for winter. But the process of repeated resprouting often resulted in trees with multiple stems.
A short term “fix” was developed. If you elevate the base of the tube an inch off the ground on Labor Day, the air flow through the tube would induce dormancy and would prevent die back. Of course it would also expose the base of the tree to rodents. This solution was more like a “patch” software designers come up with the fix “bugs” in a software program – while working on a lasting solution to the problem in the next version of the software.
Well, the next version of tree tubes – “Tree Tubes 2.0” – is here: Vented tree tubes. Vented tree tubes have solved the die back problem once and for all with black walnut, chestnut and all other trees where it was a problem… so now black walnut growers can get all of the benefits of tree tubes (deer browse protection, protection from herbicide spray and mowers, reduced moisture stress and fast growth) without the side effect of winter die back.
So if you are planting black walnut seedlings, grafts, or direct seeded nuts, don’t plant without our Tubex Combitube Treeshelters. Your trees – your legacy – deserves nothing less.