Holy buckets what a spring! Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Spring sales started early and have been building to an avalanche (sorry for the mixed metaphor) ever since.
This is my 25th spring of selling tree tubes, and I have never, ever seen anything like this. Sales usually follow a fairly orderly process (depending on the vagaries of the weather), starting in the Southeast in January/February and proceeding north through March, April and May. Most of us start to think about ordering tree tubes when a) the snow finally starts to melt and we’re sure that the long, cold winter wasn’t in fact the beginning of a new ice age, and b) the nursery lets us know our trees are on the way. (Murphy’s Law of tree nurseries seems now to be that they will ship your trees exactly 2 weeks before your ground thaws enough to dig a planting hole.)
In early March I noticed something. Orders were running way, WAY ahead of last year (which was an early spring in many places – at least until those pesky May snow storms) despite the fact that most of the orders were from the South and the Midwest and Northeast were still knee deep in snow.
I don’t know much, but I knew what that meant: for late March and April we better order more stock, buckle our seatbelts, hire more warehouse help and hold on for dear life. Spring 2014 was going to be a doozy. I was wrong; it’s been a double doozy.
I have noticed some very heartening trends in the orders this year:
1) More and more tree tubes are being used in urban, park and landscape plantings. This is incredibly exciting for me personally; my degree is in Urban Forestry and I first recognized the potential for tree tubes to increase the variety, health and longevity of urban tree plantings 25 years ago. Much more information about this in future posts and a new blog I’m starting this week.
2) Tree tube buyers are very well-informed and savvy. They have done their homework on tree tube features and performance. They have compared notes with friends and other tree planters on web forums and within their sportsman’s clubs. They are placing mixed orders, for example 4ft tubes for trees less vulnerable to deer browse or planted in the middle of a field, 5ft or 6ft tubes for trees that are irresistible to deer (fruit trees and others) or for trees planted adjacent to creeks or woods where deer gather and travel.
I used to have hundreds of “what is a tree tube” conversations. Now all my conversations focus on the finer points of tree tube design and overall planting strategy.
3) The rate of repeat orders – both from year to year and also within a single planting season – is truly gratifying… but I’ll talk more about that in my next post.
If you’ll excuse me the phone is ringing… again!