Tree Tube Question #137: Will my tree straighten out?

Sometimes trees coming screaming out the top of a tree tube so rapidly that they develop a significant bend or tilt.  The question then becomes:  Will the tree straighten out over time?

Answer: Yes!  On April 11, 2014 a customer took the photo below.  It is a sawtooth oak, planted as a seedling in spring 2013, that had grown so fast… and continued to grow so fast after emerging from its tree tube… that it bent over.

Tree tube on sawtooth oak

Fast growing sawtooth oak emerging from a 4ft tree tube with a 52 degree bend in the stem (Click to enlarge)

The customer asked if he should prune the tree back and try to develop a new, straighter central leader.  My advice was to leave the tree alone.  I told him that he would be surprised how quickly the tree would right itself.  Well, he sent this photo taken July 20:

Sawtooth oak tree emerging from tree tube

Between April 11 and July 20 the angle of the bend in the stem decreased from 52 to 39 degrees (Click to enlarge).

As you can see, the tree has straightened considerably – from a lean of 52 degrees off vertical to 39 degrees – in that short period of time.  And that’s despite the fact that the tree is still growing at a blistering pace!  In the latter part of the growing season the tree will shift its allocation of growth resources from “primary growth” (aka height growth) to “secondary growth” (stem thickness/taper plus root development).  During that time the tree will straighten out even more.  A year from now you’ll never know it had a bend to begin with!

Update: I forgot to include the text that my customer sent with these two photos.  It said, “April 11th to July 20th – all I can say is wow!”

Keep checking back.  I’ll post more photos of this tree’s progress in coming months.

I should add that the 52 degree bend is very extreme for trees grown in tree tubes.  Much more often the trees look more like this:

Ramrod straight hybrid white oak after emerging from a tee tube.

Ramrod straight hybrid white oak after emerging from a tee tube.

Or this:

IrriPan Weed Mats

Tree tube grown Chinese chestnut that makes ramrods look crooked and bent!

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