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When the Stakes are High

September 17, 2012

Almost all of the trees have been staked in time for the seasonal switch-a-roo of our prevailing wind direction. We decided to use ‘Arbor-tie’ for our tree ties and recycled wooden stakes. Full credit to my partner-in-crime for the painstaking salvage operation of wood from the mountain of scrap we inherited with the property. He de-nailed and ripped the pieces one by one…multiplied by several hundred  stakes….!

The Japanese heartnuts were treated with what we’re calling ‘silvopasture protectors’ – extra stakes and scrap fencing around each tree and the mulch ring to prevent the chickens (during their supervised free-range time) from dust bathing in the root zone. They can bathe just outside the root zone…The extra protection will also keep the curious rams from sharpening their young horns against the tender trunks. Not all the trees will get this royal treatment – we have been practicing with electric fencing for other sections and it’s getting tremendous respect from the beaks and snouts (and Jedi-in-training).

Our trees were planted as bare roots (versus ball roots), and grafted rootstock. They have small root systems in this first year and vulnerable graft unions on the trunks. They need the support of a flexible tie and stake system to help them develop the proper taper they will need to withstand our local wind conditions. The importance of staking young trees is often underestimated – or done incorrectly. If bare root planted trees are staked to tightly, the tree will assume it is well supported and put its’ efforts into growing taller, not wider in the trunk. When the stakes are removed later in the trees’ life the underdeveloped trunk is the first place to fail in storm situations. Our stakes will remain until the root systems are well developed, which could be a few seasons or less.  But they definitely won’t stay in as long as this nasty example of what not to do. You know it’s time to take the stakes out when the tree pulls them up and out of the ground as it grows…

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