After a busy planting season here in Southern Minnesota I am back to blogging. I want to provide some information about Oak trees. If you ask someone about oak trees you will likely hear how slow growing they are. Now the deer habitat improvement community knows better and are familiar with hybrid oaks. Most hybrid oaks that I see online are white oaks, but there are a few red oak hybrids. This post isn’t about hybrid oaks, but just know that these oaks grow fast and can produce acorns with-in 5 years of transplanting.
I want to discuss a blog post from knechts.net, a tree nursery in Northfield Minnesota. The post is by Leif Knecht who is a real tree guy. I have talked to him about trees about 5 times over the years and he is a wealth of knowledge. His post is Oak Trees Rock. He starts with this. Many people are surprised to learn that oak trees can fairly quickly develop into high quality strong and beautiful trees that will ad value and enjoyment to your landscape. He then talks about some fast growing types of oaks like red oak, swamp white oak and hybrid white oaks.
After some basics about proper soil and planting techniques he gets to something I wasn’t aware of. Once your oak tree has been planted, a big key to getting good growth rates is keeping weeds and grass well away from your tree. A mulched area of 6 foot diameter that is free of weeds and grass, and fertilized modestly each year will double the tree growth rate of your oak tree. When grass is allowed to grow right up to the trunk of any tree, the growth rate is usually cut in half.
As someone who has been planting and growing trees for a number of years, the idea that I can double the rate of growth seems to good to be true. So I started yesterday clearing and mulching some red oak trees. In the spring of 2017 we planted 25 red oak seedlings in an opening we had created on our limestone ridge which has many large mature red oaks. This spring every one of the new oaks have made it through the winter and are leafing out. As a trial I will mulch most of the red oaks, but keep a couple without mulch to see the difference in growth rates.
I will follow-up later. Also want to note that the oaks are in 6 foot Tree Pro tree tubes which I will post about later.