Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tree Tubes on American Chestnut Trees #3

To quickly review:  When tree tubes arrived in the USA from the UK in the late 1980s, people dedicated to the restoration of the American chestnut were quick to recognize the potential benefits.  Unfortunately, the performance of tree tubes on American chestnut seedlings didn't fulfill the promise.  Chestnut seedlings grown in the old, unvented tree tubes suffered from frost damage due to improper hardening off for winter, and grow spindly trunks with a corkscrew growth habit.

That was then, this is now.  Over the last decade advancements in tree tube design and Best Practice recommendations - most notably the introduction of vented tree tubes and the widespread adoption of flexible PVC tree tube stakes - have dramatically improved the performance of tree tubes on American chestnut seedlings.

A grower in Mississippi recently texted these photos and messages:

Text message:  Here's a friend of my standing beside the tallest tree. It's above 7-1/2 feet. Completely straight and stiff, it is not spindly. This is a ten month old 100% American chestnut. Growing in a 5 foot Tubex (Combitube Tree Tube), it was planted in July.

Here's the other photo he sent:

Text message:  Here's another. A little over 5 feet and straight. 

There is no project in all of forestry and ecological restoration more important than the restoration of the American chestnut to its rightful throne as king of the Eastern hardwood forest.  It is a test of our collective resolve, of our willingness and ability to undo some of the damage we have wrought (chestnut blight was unleashed in the USA after entering the country in infected - but co-evolutionarily immune - Chinese chestnut planting stock).

Tree tubes have always held the promise of being a powerful arrow in the quiver of restoration ecologists.  Design improvements made over the past decade mean that tree tubes are now fully able to fulfill that promise.

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