Tree Tubes – Why is everyone in such a rush to remove them?

I live, breath and eat tree tubes.  I try my best to read through forum threads because I feel these conversations between folks are their real experiences in trying to establish wildlife plantings.  I get to see all the success stories and all the failures as well as what seems to be an alarming belief system in that they have to remove the tree tube the second it emerges out the top.  Many people will say the tree tubes did great, but when I took the tube off, the tree fell over and with this seemingly innocent action it leaves a sour taste in their mouths about the overall use of tree tubes.

Tree tubes serve many functions throughout the life of a tree.  It is there as a shelter in the beginning to protect it from wildlife, wind, sun scorch, equipment, herbicides, etc and alongside this protection element it acts as a “vertical greenhouse” aiding it in growth rates and pushing the tree taller than it would if it were growing naturally.  There are trade offs in the beginning that we shouldn’t forget.  We have made a tree grow faster than it normally would which will, and rightfully so, produce a stem that is not yet sufficient enough to “hold its head up” on its own.  Why should we expect this tree to jump 3 – 5 ft in height in 2 – 3 months and be able to come out swinging once it is let out of the tube.  I am sure you have seen a teenager that hits a huge growth spurt and their limbs, hands and feet are lanky and they are practically uncoordinated for a time until the rest of their body catches up.  But eventually their bodies do and they are star athletes and trees are no different.

After the tree emerges from the tube and begins to produce lateral limbs, the tube changes gears to one of support and protection.  When the tree canopy becomes exposed and is swaying around in the wind, it will trigger the tree to start working out and putting on stem diameter.  Over time the tree stem will thicken and one day you will walk out to your tree and it will be standing upright with no help from anything.

So now I pull the tree tube off right?  Maybe.  Now you have to ask yourself, is this tree large enough to withstand deer antler rubbing or even worse an all out attack where the buck will try and break the tree in half.  If you feel it can, then pull the tube and try to re-use it.  If not, then leave it on for another season and re-assess next fall. All of the tree tubes that we sell will last 5 – 7 years if they are in full sunlight all day, everyday and will last even longer if they are along a treeline that may not get full sun all day so there doesn’t need to be a rush to remove them if you are wanting to re-use the tube.  Let it remain for a few years and then you will easily get another cycle out of it on another tree.

There is the stereotype about guys in that we don’t look at the instructions and just start doing and figure it out.  Well, in this case, there is not instruction booklet  and it actually is all about just doing and figuring it out which makes most people develop opinions about tree tubes from what they read and hear on the internet.  So I beg everyone, take some time to let your tree catch up to its teenager growth spurt and LEAVE THE TREE TUBE ON!


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