Got a text message from a customer in the southeast who planted sawtooth oaks that he planted as acorns in pots last year and then in the ground with tree tubes this March. Keeping in mind that the trees were about 30 inches tall at planting time, he also sent this photo (on May 28):
The text message that accompanied the photo: “The few trees with no tubes have barely grown… They r shooting out every day n these tubes!”
Planting trees is so good, and so important, that we sometimes forget that it should also be fun. Clearly this gentleman – and his buddy down the road with whom he has a friendly competition to see whose trees grow faster – is having fun growing trees this year!
However this also illustrates where there aren’t many long-term comparisons of seedlings with and without tree tubes. In this case I guarantee that the customer will get tired of seeing his un-tubed trees languish and will tube them as well. In many formal studies it has been difficult to compare growth rates because the un-tubed “control” trees get browsed so heavily. My favorite was a state department of transportation study in the early 1990s which claimed that they were unable to determine if tree tubes accelerated growth because the data was inconclusive… because none of the trees planted without tree tubes survived! On one hand I understand that you can’t compare growth rates with trees that are dead or were eaten by rabbits/deer. On the other hand… duh!