We recently added a poll to our tree tubes page, asking folks the primary objective of their tree planting project. The results to date:
Wildlife habitat – 37%
Food crops – 21%
Ecological restoration – 16%
Landscaping – 13%
Timber – 8%
Aesthetics – 5%
These results are pretty typical of recent trends in tree tube use. Two things strike me (besides the continued – and well-earned – popularity of tree tubes among those folks planting crab apples, sawtooth oak, etc. for wildlife habitat):
1) 21% responded that they are using tree tubes on trees planted for food crops. That’s a bit of a surprise, albeit a very pleasant one. We have known for more than 2 decades that all fruit and nuts trees grow extremely well in tree tubes. The problem for years was that orchard planters were forced to buy large planting stock that was already too big for use with a tree tube (and which therefore was subject to significant transplant shock and deformed root systems). More and more nurseries are supplying fruit and nut tree planting stock that is conducive to use with a tree tube (e.g. 36″ or shorter). This is great news, and long overdue.
An 18″ tall apple tree planted with a 4ft Tubex Combitube Tree Tube with start producing apples long before an apple tree that is 5 or 6ft tall when planted.
2) Only 8% of respondents say that timber production is their primary objective. Part of that is subtraction by addition; if a rapidly increasing number of folks are using tree tubes for wildlife habitat development and orchard establishment, the percentage of those using tree tubes for timber crops will decrease – even if the absolute number of these folks stays the same.
But it also tells me two other things. First, that most trees are planted for multiple purposes, and that while timber might be a long term objective it’s not the most immediate objective (especially since it’s an objective that the tree planter him or herself won’t live long enough to realize). Second, that I still have work to do in spreading the word to landowners planting high value hardwoods for timber crops; tree tubes are still seen by many as an added cost… until they plant and fail two or three times. Then they realize that tree tubes are a hugecost savings compared to what it actually costs to be successful without them (that’s assuming it’s possible to be successful without them given today’s deer populations).
Maybe that will be my next poll: Are you planting trees for the first time, or did past planting failures spur you to investigate tree tubes?
Year ago 99% of my customers were folks that had previous planting failures. From the hundreds of conversations I have had with customers this year I’m happy to say the growing word-of-mouth awareness of tree tubes – both in person and via various message boards – means that more and more tree planters are skipping the whole “three years of failure” part of the standard tree planting process and moving right to the “success” part of the process by using tree tubes the first time they plant!
Visit our tree tubes page regularly to participate in the poll and keep an eye on the results.