Tree Tube Height – Why we choose the height that we do

I take a lot of phone calls asking what height of tree tube should someone use and I have always advised that you buy the height of the tube based on what you are trying to protect the planting from causing harm. This primarily relates to deer and we always classify it as either low to moderate deer population or high deer population.  It dawned on me that unless everyone is out doing technical camera surveys and calculating their exact deer per sq mile then how does one know what their real deer population would be?  And deer population in a micro-area may or may not translate to browsing pressure on your trees plantings.  Your area may contain a lot of understory browse that would keep deer from needing to visit your plantings and nip off the top of the tree as it emerges from the tube or they may be so stressed from lack of browse that they will try to climb a 5 ft tree tube and just taste whatever morsel of plant material is up there.

So what height is right for deer protection?  Your wallet and a level of potential browsing that you can live with is the real answer.  Let’s be honest here.  The almighty dollar is what ultimately drives the budget of a  planting project and sometimes no matter how much someone wants to spend the extra money for a taller tube and stake, it just won’t allow for all of their trees to be tubed.  There are so many ways to flow chart this decision, but ultimately it is you who has to feel comfortable with what is going to happen to your trees and at the end of the day you may or may not experience any browsing, but most landowners know from past experience how much pressure a new tree planted out in the open will be exposed to.

Your budget may allow for you to only buy 4 ft tubes and stakes with the knowledge that upwards of 25% of trees could be browsed upon.  If your budget allows for approximately 12% increase then you can purchase a 5 ft tube and stake and accept a potential browse level of only 10% to 15%.  Then of course you can opt for a 6 ft tube and incur less than 2% browsing pressure by increasing your budget by 20 – 30% over a 4 or 5 ft outfit.

So don’t focus so much on if or how much the deer will browse your trees, but how much do I ultimately want to invest in the end result.

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