Tree Tubes: Recognizing Browse Types

Spring came late to Minnesota this year.  It was a long winter, with constant snow cover from November though late March, with sporadic snows through mid April.  Who knows, we could still get more snow!

With warmer weather I have been spending more time in the yard, raking, pruning, and weeding.  I noticed two things that had me thinking about tree tubes (Which isn’t surprising, since I’m almost always thinking about tree tubes. It’s sort of sad, really!)

1. The shrubs in the yard – particularly the honeysuckles, viburnums and elderberries – were browsed more heavily by rabbits this winter than I have ever seen.  How do I know that rabbits are the culprit?  The stems all look like they were neatly pruned at a 45 degree angle.  If the villains had been deer the stems would have rough, ragged cuts.

So that was my first tree tube related thought:  Teach folks how to differentiate between deer browse and rabbit browse so they can make a more informed decision about which treeshelter height best meets their needs.

Then I thought: If a person didn’t know how much snow we had in Minnesota this year he would think we have the world’s biggest rabbits – saber tooth man eating rabbits!  That’s because many of those neatly nipped stems are 3 feet or more off the ground!  Of course the rabbits were on top of 2-3 feet of hard packed snow when they made a lunch out of my shrubs.

So that was the second lesson relating to tree tubes:  Even if rabbits are the primary threat to your trees you need to make allowances for winter snow cover when choosing the right tree tube height.

I then went to check on some oak and Kentucky coffee tree seedlings I started in pots last year.  Now, keep in mind I have been selling tree tubes for more than 20 years, and should know more than anyone how important they are.  How’s this for stupid:  I realized that when I lifted some of the tree tubes last fall to photograph the trees to show the difference in growth between those with tree tubes and those without, I forgot to go back out and replace them before the snow started to fly.  These seedlings were in a fenced-in garden area, but the snow enabled the critters to get over the fence.

So yes, the guy who has sold tree tubes for longer than almost anyone had his prized seedling gnawed off by rabbits.

It simply goes to illustrate Murphy’s Laws of tree tubes:

1. The critters will always eat the trees you care about most

2. If you plan on putting tree tubes on them tomorrow, the critters will eat them today

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