Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oak Budcap Update July 2011

It's been a good growing season for Oak so far in the summer of 2011.  Good sites with plenty of sunlight and lack of competition are clearly the most important factors affecting growth rates.  Both paper and plastic balloon budcaps appear to have worked well in deterring White Tail Deer browse.

Here are few notes summarizing my opinion of the paper budcaps for Oak:

  • Make sure to fasten at least 2 and as many as 3 staples around the stem.  The stem is vertical, the staples should be horizontal and wrap around the stem, not through the stem (be careful).  See previous posts on this topic for photos.
  • Rip a fairly large hole through the creased top of the pre-folded budcap paper.  If the hole is not big enough, it will snuff out the growth of the terminal bud.  The good news, however, is if the terminal bud is aborted, one of the lateral buds will probably grow out the side of the budcap or from just below it anyway.  Although deciduous species such as Oak are better able than conifers to straighten themselves out if the terminal leader is aborted, it is still better in my opinion to promote the dominance of the natural terminal leader bud.
  • It probably doesn't pay to budcap Oak in areas lacking sufficient sunlight to promote robust vertical growth. The young Oak present in those sites will not put on enough vertical growth to get above deer browse stage even if they are budcapped in the fall.  The deer apparently browse these trees repeatedly all year round.  As the Oak are browsed the roots continue to grow in size, increasing the "root to shoot ratio".  When the site is adequately disturbed to provide sufficient (nearly full) canopy opening, many of these roots will have enough size and vigor to produce substantial vertical and diameter growth.  Then it is time to budcap and promote rapid vertical growth and straightness.

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