They work just fine….

So I have read on several forums that people say “I just put wire cages around my trees and they work just fine.” I felt compelled to test this theory straight up with trees in cages and trees in tubes. I planted about 30 or so trees in early March of 2011. I had found some discarded wire on the power line that the power company had stripped off an old power pole. I fashioned these into round cages and put them around some gobbler sawtooth seedlings and some bur oak seedlings along side some seedlings I planted and installed tree tubes over them. You can see the pictures of the bur oak and sawtooth trees in the cages look pretty beat up and struggling and the pictures of the trees in the tubes look vibrant, green and healthy. The leaf size of the trees from tubes are easily twice the size of the caged trees and I am actually doubting the caged trees are going to make it long term.

Looking back on initial planting heights, the bur oak only grew a half inch and the gobbler sawtooth grew 4 inches in the wire cages. The bur oak in a Tubex Combitube grew 11.5 inches and the sawtooth in a Plantra vented o style tube grew 9.5 inches in height. We had record heat and very low rainfall this past growing season so I am not at all surprised by the lack of growth of the trees in the tubes and cages. I did not do any herbaceous weed control and did not water the trees either as I wanted the experiment to show a very likely scenario of a landowner planting their trees with great ambition of spraying and coddling their trees along, but then getting too busy and just leaving the trees to fend for themselves.

I also recorded some gobbler oaks that grew 35.5 and 47 inches and most of the bur oaks grew at least 8 – 12 inches in some of the worst growing conditions I have seen in over a decade. I also find that trees kind of find their feet in tubes during the first year and then they will shoot out the tops next year as some Chinquapin oaks did this year. Last year they didn’t grow an inch from a height of 12 – 15 inches and they are all now coming out the tops of a 4 ft tube.

So if a wire cage grows them just fine for you, then you might want to rethink your definition of fine and use some tree tubes to say the grow unbelievable!

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